Helping Oklahoma's Private Ryan

Tuesday, November 30th 2004, 6:19 am

By: News On 6

Oklahomans help make up all branches of the US military. And every troop serving overseas has loved ones helping out here at home.

A Mayes County family contacted the News on 6 about how they're helping Private Ryan. That's his real name, James Ryan just like in the movie starring Tom Hanks. News on 6 anchor Tami Marler has the story.

The movie tells of a band of heroes, sent in to a raging war zone to save Private James Ryan, whose brothers were all killed serving in World War II. Because of eight brave soldiers, the Ryan family name lived on.

This is the story of another band of heroes, who wait on the homefront for another James Ryan, James "Russell" Ryan, nicknamed "Rusty, now patrolling Iraqi cities looking for insurgents. Ryan’s wife, Melissa Ryan: "I'm scared. I'm scared all the time, but I know that they don't send guys over there that isn't prepared."

2 week-old Kadence Ryan has no clue her father is a hero. They've never seen each other, but they talked on the phone last week. Melissa Ryan: "He wanted me to wake her up and make her cry so he could hear her. He heard her grunt though and that was about it. He did hear her grunt? Yeah, but that was it."

Melissa says its easy being Kadence's mother, not so easy living day-to-day without her husband, even though she has plenty of help.

Soldier’s brother, Dustin Ryan: "The baby's not alone. He asked me to be the part-time dad, so I'm the part-time dad." Tami Marler: "How does the part-time dad work?" Dustin Ryan: "I guess if she needs anything. Just give me a call. I'm here."

Soldier’s mother, Mary Ryan: "Yeah and Melissa knows that whatever she needs or Kadence needs, that we're there."

Rusty has taken plenty of ribbing from his platoon mates about his famous name.

Melissa says there "was" a real Private Ryan, but now he's been promoted to "Specialist" and first-time father.

His family hopes he'll get a two-week leave in the spring. For now, they worry for his safety every day.

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