Ryan C Adams

A Wisconsin Army National Guard soldier from Rhinelander was killed and seven other Guard soldiers were injured Thursday in Afghanistan when they were attacked by enemy forces using rocket-propelled grenade fire.

Sgt. Ryan Adams, 26, died in Logar province of wounds suffered in the attack, the Department of Defense said Saturday.

The National Guard declined to release the names and the severity of the injuries of the wounded soldiers. The soldiers were receiving medical care as needed, and their families had been notified of the injuries, according to a Guard statement.

Adams joined the Guard in 2001 after he graduated from Rhinelander High School because he wanted to serve his country, his uncle, Patrick Adams of West Bend, said Saturday.

“He was very proud to serve his country. He was incredibly proud to be a soldier, and he loved doing what he did,” said Patrick Adams, who was with Ryan Adams’ parents in Rhinelander on Saturday.

“He was very proud to serve his country. He was incredibly proud to be a soldier, and he loved doing what he did,” said Patrick Adams, who was with Ryan Adams’ parents in Rhinelander on Saturday.

His parents, Peter and Jalane, did not want to speak to reporters, Patrick Adams said. But they released a statement to WJFW-TV (Channel 12) in Rhinelander that states: “We are very proud of our son. He was where he wanted to be, doing what he wanted to do. He did it with pride and honor. He was a great soldier, and he is our hero.”

Ryan Adams was deployed with the Guard’s 951st Engineer Company (Sapper). About 100 soldiers from the Rhinelander and Tomahawk-based unit were sent to Afghanistan, where they conduct route-clearance operations for the Army’s 101st Airborne Division, the Guard said.

It was the second tour of duty for Adams and his unit. It was deployed to Iraq from May 2003 to April 2004 when it was Company C, 724th Engineer Battalion, the Guard said.

At Rhinelander High School, Ryan Adams was a quarterback on the football team and also played baseball, Patrick Adams said.

Ryan Adams also volunteered with Angels on My Shoulder, a nonprofit cancer support group in St. Germain. The group runs camps for children affected by cancer, visits cancer patients at hospitals and clinics, provides weekend retreats for cancer caregivers, and has programs for cancer survivors.

“It was an important cause to him,” Patrick Adams said.

Adams’ parents have set up a memorial fund at Park City Credit Union, and contributions will be donated to Angels on My Shoulder. Donations can be sent to the Ryan Adams fund, Park City Credit Union, P.O. Box 464, Rhinelander, WI 54501.

As soon as he learned of Ryan Adams’ death, Rhinelander Mayor Richard Johns said he ordered the Fire Department to lower its U.S. flag to half-staff to honor the soldier. Johns said flags at other city locations would be lowered to half-staff over the weekend as well.

“It’s rough when you lose one of your people. It’s a terrible thing to happen in our community, and our condolences go out to the family,” Johns said Saturday.

Johns said he had no word about the other soldiers who were injured or the extent of their injuries.

Brig. Gen. Donald Dunbar, the Guard’s adjutant general, also ordered flags at all Wisconsin National Guard armories, air bases and other facilities lowered to half-staff beginning Sunday in honor of Adams and continuing until sunset on the day of his funeral.

“With all 10,000 of Sgt. Adams’ fellow soldiers and airmen of Wisconsin’s National Guard, I salute his service to his community, state and nation; and I pray for the protection and safe return of all the soldiers and airmen of the Wisconsin National Guard now serving overseas in harm’s way,” Dunbar said in a statement.

Ryan Adams is the second soldier from Rhinelander killed in combat in Iraq or Afghanistan.

SGT. Adams was born on December 7, 1982 and passed away on Friday, October 2, 2009.

SGT. Adams was a resident of Rhinelander, Wisconsin at the time of his passing.

Ryan graduated from Rhinelander High School in 2001.

He proudly joined the military and served his first tour of duty in Iraq in May 2003 to April 2004. He was an exceptional soldier who particularly valued his role in rebuilding the infrastructure of Iraq and loved nothing more than serving his country.

Funeral services for SGT. Adams will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, October 10, 2009, at the Rhinelander High School Auditorium with Father John Gerritts officiating. Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. on Friday, October 9, 2009, at the Carlson Funeral Home (369-1414 / www.carlsonfh.com) and from 9:30 a.m. until the time of service on Saturday at the high school. Interment with military honors will follow in Northland Memorial Park.

For those who would wish to honor Ryan, the family suggests support of a memorial established in his name for the benefit of the Angel on My Shoulder program. Contributions may be directed to Angel on My Shoulder, P.O. Box 747, St. Germain, Wisconsin – 54558.

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Age: 26
Incident Location: Logar province, Afghanistan
Branch: Army
Rank: Sgt.
Unit: 951st Engineer Company (Sapper), Wisconsin Army National Guard
Units Base: Rhinelander, Wisconsin