Ryan J Larson

A popular, athletic Adams County teenager who went to Afghanistan with the Army in April was killed Wednesday by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan, the Department of Defense announced Thursday.

Pvt. Ryan J. Larson, 19, of Friendship, died in Kandahar Province, said Chuck Canterbury, a media relations officer for the Army at Fort Wainwright, the base in Alaska where Larson was stationed.

Larson was senior class president before he graduated in 2010. He played trumpet in the school band, lettered in three sports and earned grades that put him on the honor roll each grading period of his high school career, said Adams-Friendship High School principal Timothy Hodkiewicz.

“He had a quality of quiet leadership, common sense, very personable, not the too-talkative type,” Hodkiewicz said. “He had the respect of everybody. A top-notch gentleman from top to bottom.”

Larson wasn’t a big kid. He weighed about 110 pounds and suffered a few pulled muscles trying to run with longer-legged members of the cross country team, said his math teacher and running coach, Mike Norton.

He had the words “I’m fine” printed on the back of his practice uniform. Those were the words he said every time Norton voiced concern he was pushing himself too hard after an injury.

“His heart and his soul were definitely bigger than his body,” Norton said.

Larson had a way lifting the spirits of his teammates and fellow students.

“If they were having a hard day, he brought them up,” Norton said. “He knew how to read people. He knew how to make them feel good about themselves.”

In addition to running cross country, Larson was a left-handed pitcher and outfielder for the baseball team and a member of the wrestling squad that won four conference championships while he was a member, Hodkiewicz said.

He joined the Army as soon as he graduated, but when he was home on leave he came back to the wrestling practice room at the 500-student high school to work with the team.

“He was a person that you’d like to have be your son,” Hodkiewicz said.

“He always wanted to join the Army and he enlisted as soon as he could,” Hodkiewicz added, remembering seeing him at school wearing a shirt with the recruiting slogan “Army Strong.”

He completed basic training at Fort Benning, Ga., and arrived at Fort Wainwright in October, according to a news release from his unit, the 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division.

Larson was an only child. The teen’s mother and grandmother went to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware where his remains were expected to arrive, Hodkiewicz said.

Students and school staff were shaken by news of Larson’s death. The school made three counselors available, Hodkiewicz said.

“He was a great guy because no matter what you were feeling, if you were in the lowest low of your life, he could do or say anything that could put a smile on your face,” said his friend Cami Ebert, 18. “He was just awesome. There’s really not words.”

Larson was the fifth Wisconsin soldier killed in Afghanistan this year.

Two other soldiers were injured in Wednesday’s attack, but their wounds were not life-threatening, officials said. The families of all three were notified, Canterbury said.

PFC Ryan Jeffrey Larson, age 19, of Friendship, Wisconsin was killed in action while serving in the United States Army on Wednesday, June 15, 2011 exactly one year to the day he left Adams-Friendship for basic training. Funeral services will be 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 25, 2011 at the Adams Friendship High School in Adams, Wisconsin. Rev. T. Christian Nelson will officiate. Visitation will be 11 a.m. until the time of service on Saturday at Adams-Friendship High School. Ryan was born October 29, 1991 in Rockford, Illinois to RaeAnn Larson and Richard Himmel. He moved to Adams Friendship in 1992. He attended Castle Rock Elementary School. He was an active, lively, interested student. He was involved in Youth Football, Green Demon Wrestling, and Little League Baseball. In middle school, he was active in wrestling, baseball, student council, and played trumpet in the band. He was the first boy to do flag corp for Cadet Band. He had the inner strength to do what others couldn’t. He was confirmed in 8th grade as a member of the United in Christ Lutheran Church in Dellwood. In High School he continued to play in the band, bowled on the Mauston Bowling Team, wrestled, ran cross country and track, was a member of the freshmen baseball team, and played some AF golf. He was Student Council School Board Representative and was voted class President his senior year, all while staying on the honor roll all four years. He always had a passion to serve his country. He decided the Army was the best fit for him. He enlisted his Junior year and left for basic training 10 days after graduating from High School. His belief was to protect the people he loved. He was eager to deploy to Afghanistan and so excited to be able serve his country. Ryan always had a twinkle in his eye and smile on his face which made him a friend to all. He had a caring heart, and a good ear to anyone in need. He was well known for being an avid Bears fan. He will be greatly missed by many family members and his friends. Ryan was preceded in death by his Grandfather, Col. Roger Himmel and Sweetness. Survivors: Mother: RaeAnn Larson of Friendship, Wisconsin Father: Rick Himmel of Rockford, Illinois Grandparents: Ron and Ellen Larson Grandmother: Sophia Himmel Great-Grandmother: Myrtle Pavlak Uncles/Aunts: Ronald and Shelly Larson, Russell Larson, Ritchie Larson, Jim and Wendy Himmel,and Cindi Himmel (Marty Cielesz) Cousins: Rebecca Larson, Ashley Witters, Maggie Cielesz, Mick Cielesz Further survived by other relatives and his many friends In lieu of flowers, care packages may be sent to his unit in Alaska C/O Larry Addy Bco 1-5 IN, 1-25 @ SBCT FOB Tarnack APO AE 09355 or memorials to the AF Scholarship Fund; or the AFHS Band. “Go Army beat Navy” Visitaion & Funeral Information line for PFC Ryan Larson 608-339-0000

PFC Ryan Jeffrey Larson, age 19, of Friendship, Wisconsin was killed in action while serving in the United States Army on Wednesday, June 15, 2011 exactly one year to the day he left Adams-Friendship for basic training.

Funeral services will be 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 25, 2011 at the Adams Friendship High School in Adams, Wisconsin. Rev. T. Christian Nelson will officiate. Visitation will be 11 a.m. until the time of service on Saturday at Adams-Friendship High School.

Ryan was born October 29, 1991 in Rockford, Illinois to RaeAnn Larson and Richard Himmel. He moved to Adams Friendship in 1992. He attended Castle Rock Elementary School. He was an active, lively, interested student. He was involved in Youth Football, Green Demon Wrestling, and Little League Baseball. In middle school, he was active in wrestling, baseball, student council, and played trumpet in the band. He was the first boy to do flag corp for Cadet Band. He had the inner strength to do what others couldn’t. He was confirmed in 8th grade as a member of the United in Christ Lutheran Church in Dellwood.

In High School he continued to play in the band, bowled on the Mauston Bowling Team, wrestled, ran cross country and track, was a member of the freshmen baseball team, and played some AF golf. He was Student Council School Board Representative and was voted class President his senior year, all while staying on the honor roll all four years.

He always had a passion to serve his country. He decided the Army was the best fit for him. He enlisted his Junior year and left for basic training 10 days after graduating from High School. His belief was to protect the people he loved. He was eager to deploy to Afghanistan and so excited to be able serve his country.

Ryan always had a twinkle in his eye and smile on his face which made him a friend to all. He had a caring heart, and a good ear to anyone in need. He was well known for being an avid Bears fan.
He will be greatly missed by many family members and his friends.

Ryan was preceded in death by his Grandfather, Col. Roger Himmel and Sweetness.

Survivors:
Mother: RaeAnn Larson of Friendship, Wisconsin
Father: Rick Himmel of Rockford, Illinois
Grandparents: Ron and Ellen Larson
Grandmother: Sophia Himmel
Great-Grandmother: Myrtle Pavlak
Uncles/Aunts: Ronald and Shelly Larson, Russell Larson, Ritchie Larson, Jim and Wendy Himmel,and Cindi Himmel (Marty Cielesz)
Cousins: Rebecca Larson, Ashley Witters, Maggie Cielesz, Mick Cielesz
Further survived by other relatives and his many friends

In lieu of flowers, care packages may be sent to his unit in Alaska
C/O
Larry Addy
Bco 1-5 IN, 1-25 @ SBCT
FOB Tarnack APO AE 09355
or memorials to the AF Scholarship Fund; or the AFHS Band.

“Go Army beat Navy”

Help Us Honor Their Memory
Friendship
Date of Death: 06/15/2011
Age: 19
Incident Location: Kandahar, Afghanistan
Branch: Army
Rank: Pvt.
Unit: 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division
Units Base: Fort Wainwright, Alaska