April 8, 2003 at 6:59 PM EST - Updated June 17 at 7:11 AM
This picture is of my brother, Specialist Ryan Blankenship. He is currently serving as an Apache crew chief in the 101st Aviation Regiment, United States Army.
Ryan graduated from Oak Hills High School in the class of 2000. He enlisted in the Amrmy on December 23, 2000, with aspirations of becoming an Apache helicopter pilot. Ryan left for basic training at Fort Knox, KY, on March 13th, 2003. Upon completion of basic training, he went to Ft. Eustis, VA, for his Advanced Individual Training as an Apache helicopter crew chief. He graduated first in his class from AIT and was selected for further training on the new Apache Longbow. In recognition of his accomplishments, he received two Army Certificates of Achievement.
Ryan's first duty assignment was in South Korea, where he was stationed for a year. While serving in South Korea, Ryan received two Army Achievement Medals. He passed the entrance test and physical for flight school and has submitted his packet for consideration. Ryan returned from South Korea on December 3, 2002. After taking 28 days leave, he reported to his next assignment with the 101st Airborne Division at Ft. Campbell, KY. On Feburary 27, 2003, Ryan was deployed to the Persian Gulf with the 101st Airborne Division, currently participating in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
On February 10, 2003, just 17 days before Ryan was deployed, his daughter Madison was born. Luckily, he was able to see Madison before he headed overseas.
Our family is very proud of Ryan, and we look forward to his safe arrival back here in the U.S.