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Brothers (& Sisters) Killed in Action in USMC Helicopters or while assigned to USMC Helicopter or Tiltrotor Squadrons in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM

040811   HMM-166     Operation IRAQI FREEDOM

Incident Date 040811 HMM-166 CH-53E - BuNo 164782+ - combat operations - Al Anbar Province, Iraq

Howard, John Ryan SSgt Crew Chief HMM-166 MAG-16/ 3rdMAW/ 11th MEU 000000

Hubbard, Tavon L. LCpl Passenger 11th MEU/ 1stMEF 000000

HOWARD, JOHN RYAN : SSGT : E6 : MOS : 26 : COVINGTON : VA : 040811 : Crew Chief with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 166, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, MCAS Miramar, CA : Al Anbar Province, Iraq

HUBBARD, TAVON L. : LCPL : E3 : MOS : 24 : RESTON : VA : 040811 : Mail Clerk, Command Element, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, MCAS Miramar, CA : killed as passenger in a CH-53E helicopter crash in Al Anbar Province, Iraq

Official USMC Source - Memorial Ceremony:
Memorial recognizes fallen HMM-166 Marines
Submitted by: 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing
Story Identification #: 20048252532
Story by Staff Sgt. A.C. Mink

AL ANBAR PROVINCE, Iraq (Aug. 19, 2004) -- Marines, Sailors and Soldiers gathered to pay homage to Capt. Gregory Ratzlaff, pilot, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 166 (Reinforced), 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), I Marine Expeditionary Force, and Staff Sgt. Sean Howard, crew chief, also with HMM-166.

Greg Ratzlaff, 36, an Olympia, Wash. native, died Aug. 3 during a non-combat related incident at a forward operating base in Iraq.

Ryan Howard was killed Aug. 12, in a CH-53E crash near Al Najaf. Also killed in the crash was Lance Cpl. Tavon Hubbard, a Postal clerk, who was assigned to the Command Element, 11th MEU, I MEF.

Capt. Bryan Forney, a fellow ‘Grey Elk’ pilot, spoke of Ratzlaff as a “consummate professional.”

“Greg loved his Marines and what the Corps stands for… but above all, Greg loved his family,” said Forney. “His devotion to his family was absolute – to his wife, Mary, and his son, Drew, who was the very center of his life.”

Capt. Jeffrey Olesko, also an HMM-166 pilot, echoed that sentiment. “When I am a father, I wish to be half the father that Greg was to Drew.”

Lt. Col. Will Guthrie, commanding officer, HMM-166 (Rein) said, “These men were more than just Marines … they were our friends. They were sons, husbands, fathers … I am personally grateful I had the opportunity to know and serve with these men.”

Ryan Howard is survived by his wife, Amie, and children, Kaitlynn and Sean.

Sgt. Joel Diehl, fellow squadron-mate, read a message from Howard’s wife.

Choking with emotion he read, “If I only lived until tomorrow, I would have lived fully because I’ve loved you … The war is over for you my love, you are a hero. …”

Submitted by Alan H Barbour, Historian, USMC Combat Helicopter Association

SSgt Ryan Howard, HMM-166:
Ryan was a wonderful son and I am sure he was a great Marine. His whole family is very proud of him. We miss him a great deal but we are sure that you all do too. Thank you for everything you have done for us and everything you did for Ryan.
Submitted by Kathryn Howard, Mother of SSGT John Ryan Howard

SSgt Ryan Howard, HMM-166:

To my brother's fellow Marines......Thank you for serving with my brother, thank you for being his friend, and most of all thank you for the many acts of kindness shown to my family.

Ryan was my youngest brother. I have another brother - Ensign Derek S Howard, US Navy. When Ryan was born I was 8, and Derek was 6. Now I am 35, he would have been 27 on 5Feb05, and Derek is 32.

We laid our brother to rest in the neighborhood in which we grew up and were raised. He is buried in the same cemetery of the church that he and Aimee were married in here in Virginia. He is also buried with LCpl Tavon L. Hubbard - in Arlington National Cemetery. An honor he deserved, to have died with such a great young Marine such as Tavon.

It has been 6 months now, and although it is getting somewhat easier to deal with my brother's death, it still is very hard! You have to know the relationship we had with him to understand, and the relationship he had with us. We love him and he loves us! Ryan also loved you, his fellow Marines, his Corps and this country enough to do his duty for God and his country.

In closing, I want to share with you a part of the last conversation I had with my brother on June 27, 2004...the day before he left California to go back to Iraq. He said, " Don't worry about me, I have to worry about you more than you have to worry about me; my Marines will take care of me!"

Submitted by Gregory Alan Howard, SSGT John Ryan Howard's oldest brother

Personal Narrative:
SSGT John Ryan Howard was also known as Duck as in "Howard The Duck". He was a great man; I worked with him since May 2001. He is greatly missed and I will always remember him. He helped me become proficient in my job and as a Marine.
Submitted by Josh Dunne, HMM-166

Family Commentary:
I miss John immensly...he was a great man who we all never forget!!!
"Love to SSgt JOHN HOWARD"

Submitted by Amie Howard, Wife of SSgt John Howard