Ryan Iannelli's helicopter went down on September 28, 2011 while he was fighting in Afghanistan. Iannelli played baseball for Kingsway Regional High School during his high school years and the team decided they wanted him to be remembered forever. NBC10's Doug Shimell shares the story.
Ryan attended Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Okla., playing baseball for the university for four years. His military awards and decorations include the National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Air Medal Strike/Flight Numeral 1, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, NATO ISAF Medal. Sgt. Maj. William Sweeney said, "the Marines of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 269 will remember Iannelli’s character."
Ryan's heart's desire was not only to serve and protect his fellow Americans from evil, but to also share with them the hope of eternal life through Jesus Christ. From the time Ryan was a little boy, his mother would tell him "Ryan......41319!" She would say these little numbers when he was up to bat in a baseball game or any other time he was faced with a challenge. The numbers represent two scriptures which she believes were two of Ryan's favorites and that these scriptures gave him the bravery to become an aviator and the peace knowing God would always have his back.
Philippians 4:13 … "I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me."
Joshua 1:9 … "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."
Ryan would be honored if you would consider allowing him the privilege to introduce you to his best friend who he is now with, Jesus Christ. Jesus did not give up His life for only Ryan to have eternal life, but for each and every one of you reading this. Ryan would encourage you to know that if your helicopter goes down today, you know where you will spend eternity. None of us have any guarantee that we have even the rest of today.
Invite Jesus to be your Lord and Savior. Dear Jesus, I recognize that I am a sinner. Please forgive me for my sins. I ask you to come into my heart and be my Lord and Savior, my best friend. Amen!
Look up these scriptures of God's promises. If you don't have a bible, you can Google them.
Acts 16:31 - John 5:24 - Psalm 1:41 - John 3:16 - John 11:25 - 26 - John 5:24
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Anyone who knew Ryan knew his love for the diamond. As a little boy, Ryan always took baseball very seriously. He was never the little kid fooling around when he was out on the field. He always had his head in the game and worked hard. Neighbors remember hearing the little kid next door practicing hitting the baseball into the net over and over all hours of the day or night. You would see him running down the street with a parachute flying off of his back to increase his speed running, or practicing on a sliding mat to steal bases. Ryan was known for driving pitchers crazy as he had an amazing record for bases stolen.
A lifelong Philadelphia Phillies fan, Ryan coached an American Legion baseball team in Williamstown during the summer of 2007. By the end of that summer he had joined the Marine Corps.
Ryan's high school coach, Jim Ambrosius said Iannelli received most valuable player his sophomore year, and served as team captain his junior and senior years. “I never saw any reluctance or fear in him,” the coach said. “He was just a person of tremendous character."
“The most touching thing about him was that when he put his mind to something, it was total commitment,” Ambrosius continued. “Ryan was the ultimate achiever.”
“He loved baseball, but he always said if things didn’t work out on the baseball field, he’d follow in his grandfather’s footsteps and join the military. He knew the risks, but he had such a love of his family and a love of his country. He had a very deep belief in
God. Ryan and his whole family are very spiritual,” Ambrosius said.
“Anyone who came across Ryan knew what a special kid he was,” he said. “He was a special kid who turned into a special man."
Ryan is known for his deep love for Jesus Christ. He was not only brave and bold in serving and protecting his country, but he was also very bold and passionate about sharing his personal friendship and relationship with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ - the friend who suffered and died for him over 2,000 years ago. Ryan is alive and well in Heaven today because his best friend Jesus gave up His life for Ryan so that he could live forever.
In the wartime chapel at Camp Dwyer in Afghanistan, where Capt. Ryan Iannelli once worshiped, his fellow Marines gathered to remember him in a ceremony, Oct. 3.
CAMP DWYER - The Marines who served alongside Iannelli described him as a deeply spiritual man who strove to make a difference. “Whether you knew him for 5 minutes or 5 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.” We were really good friends. He was my best friend here.” At the ceremony, Neidecker read Bible verse Matthew 25: 35-40.
Days before Iannelli’s death, Col. Ben Hancock, the assistant wing commander for 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (FWD), traveled to Camp Dwyer to fly with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 269, and there he met the young captain. Hancock flew a mission that Iannelli had been slated to go on. “Here 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.”