John Ryan Dennison – Captain. United States Army

NEWS RELEASES from the United States Department of Defense

November 18, 2006

DoD Identifies Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.  Captain John R. Dennison, 24, of Ijamsville, Maryland, died on November 15, 2006, in Balad, Iraq, as a result of small arms fire. Dennison was assigned to 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

For further information related to this release, contact 82nd Airborne Division Public Affairs Office at (910) 907-1946.

Ijamsville soldier to be buried at Arlington
Published on November 26, 2006
By Gina Gallucci

Courtesy of the Frederick, Maryland, News-Post

IJAMSVILLE — A local U.S. Army soldier who died in Iraq will be laid to rest Wednesday.


A mass celebrating the life of Captain Ryan Dennison will begin at 8 a.m. at the St. John Evangelist Roman Catholic Church at 118 E. Second St. in Frederick.

Following the mass, the military will provide an escort to Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia for burial starting at 11:30 a.m.

Captain Dennison, 24, of Ijamsville, was killed November 15, 2006, by small arms fire in Balad, Iraq, according to the U.S. Department of Defense. The Army promoted him from First Lieutenant to Captain posthumously.

This was his first deployment to Iraq, said Jack and Shannon Dennison, Captain Dennison’s parents. He was sent to Kuwait in August and went to Iraq in early September.

He was assigned to the 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

A memorial service for Captain Dennison was held Saturday at the military post’s division memorial chapel.

Captain Dennison, a 2000 Urbana High School graduate, was the seventh member of his 2004 graduating class at the United States Military Academy at West Point to die in combat since September 11, 2001, according to the academy’s Web site.

Maryland Man Who Was Eager to Lead Is Killed in Combat
By Cameron W. Barr
Courtesy of the Washington Post
Saturday, November 18, 2006

John Ryan Dennison was a shining light in the Class of 2000 at Urbana High School in Frederick County — an excellent student, a football player, a wrestler. Yesterday, the school’s teachers and administrators reeled from the news that he was killed Wednesday in Iraq.

“When you lose a young life, it somehow diminishes all of us,” said Principal George M. Seaton.

John Ryan Dennison, 24, was promoted posthumously to Captain. He had been in Iraq since summer.

History teacher Norm Crosby, who wrote a recommendation in support of Dennison’s application to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, said he was a natural leader. “He was a young man who always knew the right thing to do, whether that was cracking a joke or calling attention to something. He had a presence about him,” he said.

A 2004 graduate of the academy, Dennison, 24, was killed by small-arms fire during combat operations in Diyala Province. A First Lieutenant who was promoted posthumously to Captain, Dennison served in the 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. He had been in Iraq since the summer.

“Captain Dennison was a superb young officer and warrior. He led from the front in all that he did,” Colonel Bryan Owens, commander of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, said in a statement.

Dennison — of Ijamsville, southeast of the town of Frederick — came from a military family. He married a fellow West Point graduate, First Lieutenant Haley Dennison, who has been serving in Afghanistan. In an e-mail yesterday, she declined to comment, saying she was “still in Afghanistan awaiting a flight home to try to put my life together.”

John Dennison, his father, told the Associated Press that he met his wife, Shannon, when they were serving with the Army in Germany, where they adopted their first son, known in the military as John and by his family, teachers and friends as Ryan. The Dennisons also have a daughter, Colleen, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate, and another son, Christopher, a college student.

His father told the AP that Dennison was eager to serve in Iraq. “He wanted to lead troops and felt that’s what he had been trained to do and wanted to go do it,” he said.

Crosby said that Dennison had great promise. “I kidded him that I’d see him on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.” Crosby remembers his former student as “someone who had taken a fairly conservative point of view on a lot of things and as being willing to listen, but always coming back to his beliefs. He’d stand his ground.”

Chemistry teacher Michelle Shearer said Dennison’s smiling personality had a magnetic quality. “There isn’t anybody who didn’t like Ryan Dennison,” she said.

Dennison was the third West Point graduate with ties to Maryland to die in the Iraq conflict. More than 50 Marylanders have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Members of Dennison’s immediate family could not be reached yesterday. Neighbors said they had gone to meet the body at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

At the family home, yellow bows were tied around the trunks of two trees in the front yard, their branches bared of leaves by winter’s approach. The wind wound a U.S. flag around a pole jutting from the house, along with several banners.

Two said Army, one said Navy, and a fourth, a bit tattered, said Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Frederick Co. soldier always gave ‘110 percent’
Lt. John R. Dennison, 24, killed in Iraq Wednesday
By Kelly Brewington
Courtesy of the Baltimore Sun
November 17, 2006

A 24-year-old soldier from Ijamsville who married his West Point college sweetheart was killed in combat Wednesday in Iraq, according to his family.

First Lieutenant John Ryan Dennison died after suffering two gunshot wounds during fighting east of Baghdad, his family said. The Department of Defense has not publicly announced his death. Lieutenant Dennison, the eldest son of Army parents, was a fiercely competitive athlete and a determined soldier who reveled in every challenge, said his mother, Shannon Dennison.

“He had to be wherever the challenge was; he always had to do things on the edge,” she said. “And he always had to do things his way.”

So it was no surprise when “Ryan,” as he was called by his family, became a star on the wrestling and football teams at Urbana High School, despite being a slight 165 pounds.

Or when he was accepted to the elite skydiving team at U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Or when, several years ago, he decided to run the grueling John F. Kennedy 50-mile race through Western Maryland.

“He just did everything 110 percent,” his mother said. “He played hard; he did sports hard, and he did his studies hard.”

Lieutenant Dennison played offensive guard on the Frederick County high school’s varsity football team when the school won back-to-back state championships in 1998 and 1999. Throughout his football career at Urbana, he never played in a losing game, said his father, Jack Dennison.

Hanging on his bedroom wall was a poster emblazoned with a quote by football legend Vince Lombardi: “Expect to Win.”

And that’s how he approached life.

After graduating from Urbana in 2000, Lieutenant Dennison went to West Point, where he majored in international relations and became a history buff, taking a keen interest in the Civil War.

He was accepted onto the academy’s skydiving team and became its president his senior year.

“Getting into skydiving was like getting into a fraternity,” said Jack Dennison. “He was a risk-taker. He had very little fear and to my knowledge, he rarely showed it.”

Though he was known for his focus and dedication, Lieutenant Dennison had a fun-loving side and had many friends, who considered him the life of the party, said his mother.

“When Ryan was in the game, he had a game face and was absolutely serious,” said his father. “But when it came time to relax, he relaxed.”

Lieutenant Dennison met his wife, Haley Dennison, also 24, in a philosophy course at West Point and proposed to her their junior year. They married in July 2004, a month after graduating from West Point.

The newlyweds took a honeymoon cruise around the Mediterranean shortly before being forced to part ways for officer training that fall.

Their respective training courses kept them apart for several months, but the couple reunited in the spring 2005 when both were stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where they bought a house and became active members of their church.

Though both were raised religiously – he as a Catholic and she as a Baptist – the Dennisons deepened their faith as a couple. Lieutenant Dennison read the Bible every day, his parents said.

The couple would be forced to separate again when Haley Dennison was deployed to Afghanistan in March. This summer, it was Lieutenant Dennison’s turn to be deployed, first to Kuwait, then Iraq.

A platoon leader in a cavalry regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division, Lieutenant Dennison viewed serving in Iraq as the ultimate test of everything he had trained for in life, said Shannon Dennison.

“He wanted to go; he was excited to go; he wanted the chance to lead,” she said. “It was sort of the culmination of all the training. It was his moment.”

Lieutenant Dennison’s wife is expected to return from Afghanistan soon, said Jack Dennison.

“She’s devastated,” he said. “They were very much in love. I think they were an ideal couple. Her mother said to me today that they were so perfect, that no one thought anything like this would happen.”

Services had not been arranged as of last night, the family said.

In addition to his wife and parents, Lieutenant Dennison is survived by a brother, Christopher Dennison, and a sister, Colleen Dennison.

30 November 2006:

Hundreds of mourners filed out of St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church in Frederick Wednesday morning following the funeral for Captain John Ryan Dennison of Ijamsville.

The melody of a traditional Catholic song “How Great Thou Art” wafted from the church’s interior as dozens members of Patriotic Guard Riders, donning black leather bike wear, lined Church Street holding American flags to salute the procession.

With few words, Dennison’s family and friends consoled each other, wiping tears and hugging, as Dennison’s flag-draped casket was placed into a hearse. The procession was scheduled to trek to Arlington National Cemetery for an 11:30 a.m. ceremony.

Dennison, 24, a paratrooper who grew up in Ijamsville, died November 15, 2006, after a small arms fire outbreak near Kirkush, Iraq, with his Fort Bragg, N.C., unit — the 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.

A 2000 graduate of Urbana High, Dennison participated on the school’s wrestling and football teams. He graduated from West Point in May, and was immediately commissioned as a Second Lieutenant, according to a press release from the 82nd Airborne Division.

‘‘Capt. Dennison was a superb young officer and warrior,” Dennison’s brigade combat team commander, Colonel Bryan Owens, said in a press release. ‘‘He led from the front in all that he did.”

Dennison’s family requested that media not attend the services on Wednesday.

“Ryan served our family and his country with tremendous honor and courage, and it is our goal to spend this time honoring him appropriately,” said his mother, Shannon Dennison, in the release. ‘‘We wish to thank all of our friends and family for their steadfast support and love as we cope with this tragic loss.”

Dennison was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraqi Campaign Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. He also received the Army Service Ribbon, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Ranger Tab and Parachutist’s Badge, according to the 82nd Airborne Division.

Dennison’s friend of 17 years, Jonathan Sanderson of Monrovia, recently recalled Dennison, whom he met in Cub Scouts, as a leader and an adventuresome go-getter who was more curious about other’s lives than talking about his own.

“He couldn’t be sitting around watching TV,” Sanderson said. “We were always out doing something. … He didn’t fear anything in life.”

Dennison is survived by his parents, sister Colleen Dennison, 23, brother Chris Dennison, 24, and wife First Lieuenant Haley Dennison, a soldier who was stationed in Afghanistan.




A Caisson carries the remains of Army Captain John Ryan Dennison during funeral services at
Arlington National Cemetery, Wednesday, November 29, 2006


An Army Honor Guard members carry the remains of Army Captain John Ryan Dennison
during funeral services at Arlington National Cemetery Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Members of an Army Honor Guard members lower the casket of Army Captain John Ryan Dennison
during funeral services at Arlington National Cemetery,Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Major General David Rodriguez, left, presents the flag from the casket of Army Captain John Ryan Dennison
to his widow, Haley Dennison, during funeral services at Arlington National Cemetery.




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