DWYER, Afghanistan (10/3/2011) - In the wartime chapel here
where Capt. Ryan Iannelli once worshiped, his fellow Marines
gathered to remember him in a ceremony, Oct. 3.
Iannelli, an AH-1W Super Cobra pilot assigned to Marine
Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 269, 2nd Marine Aircraft
Wing (Forward), died Sept. 28, supporting combat operations
in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was posthumously
promoted to the rank of captain.
The Marines who
served alongside Iannelli described him as a deeply
spiritual man who strove to make a difference.
“Whether you knew him for five minutes or five years, he
impacted you in a positive way,” said Capt. Scott Neidecker,
a Super Cobra pilot with the squadron. “He was the kind of
guy who would do anything for anyone.”
he had known Iannelli since they met at Naval Air Station
Pensacola, Fla., for flight school.
“We worked in
[operations], writing the schedule together,” Neidecker
said. “After I checked in with the squadron, he came out
here too and we still wrote the schedule together. We were
really good friends. He was my best friend here.”
the ceremony, Neidecker read Bible verse Matthew 34:40:
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come,
you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the
kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was
thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger
and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me,
I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you
came to visit me.'
“Then the righteous will answer
him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or
thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you
a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe
you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you,
whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and
sisters of mine, you did for me.'”
Days before Iannelli's
death, Col. Ben Hancock, the assistant wing commander for
2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward), traveled to Camp Dwyer
to fly with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 269,
there he met the young captain.
Hancock flew a
mission that Iannelli had been slated to go on.
comes this old colonel, taking his flight time,” Hancock
said. “A lot of guys would have been upset, but he was very
gracious, very sharp, very motivated and very helpful.”
Hancock said Iannelli loaned him his helmet, his flight
vest, his supply of cold water and even his rifle.
“It was quite tragic to hear about his loss, but it was even
more personally tragic to know, ‘That's the kid who hosted
me down there,'” Hancock said. “By all accounts, he was
extremely well respected and liked – an extremely unique
individual who was not just a great aviator, but a great
person as well. I got the impression Ryan Iannelli was the
kind of guy everyone wanted to hang out with.”
Iannelli, 27, was a native of East Greenwich Township, N.J.
He graduated from Kingsway High School in 2002, where he
excelled as an athlete.
After high school, he
attended Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Okla., playing
baseball for the university for four years.
awards and decorations include the National Defense Service
Medal and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.
all know that this is a part of our profession, we all
understand there's an element of potential risk and
sacrifice,” said Hancock. “We're all hopeful that we will
grow old and be alive and well, but we all know there are a
lot of very great young Marines and exceptional people who
die in the line of duty.”
Sgt. Maj. William E.
Sweeney, the sergeant major for Marine Light Attack
Helicopter Squadron 269, said the Marines of Marine Light
Attack Helicopter Squadron 269 will remember Iannelli's
character, and that will help them as they complete their
mission of providing close-air support for coalition forces
eradicating terror and violence in southwestern Afghanistan.
“It hurts to lose a Marine,” Hancock said. “But
knowing the risk, we have to move on; we have to pick it
back up. The infantry expects and deserves our support.”
Sweeney said, “I think ultimately, this will bring us
tighter and closer together.”
More associated images in frame below
By USMC Cpl. Brian Adam Jones
2nd Marine Aircraft Wing
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