Grieving family members and friends in northeastern Wyoming remember Ryan Zorn as a gentle man with a kind heart.
Zorn, an Army staff sergeant who grew up in Upton, Wyo., was killed Monday in Tal Afar, Iraq, when the armored vehicle he was riding in overturned.
Zorn, 35, was the son of Myron and JoAnn Zorn, who live in Wright, Wyo.
A communications expert with the 311th Military Intelligence Unit of the 101st Airborne Division, Zorn was helping Iraqis develop their own communications and intelligence operations, his mother told the Casper Star-Tribune.
He was the 25th serviceman with ties to Wyoming to be killed in Iraq since 2003.
Zorn arrived in Iraq in February for his third tour there and was due to come home next March, according to his father. Staff Sgt. Zorn served 16 years in the Army and recently re-enlisted.
Chermey Arthur, who went to school with Zorn, said it has been a difficult week for the 27 other 1993 graduates of Upton High School. Arthur, now the secretary at Upton High School, remembered Zorn as a shy, quiet boy.
“He always had a smile for you,” she said Thursday. “Ryan was a very gentle soul. He had a very kind heart. He will be missed greatly.”
Upton High School Principal Gary Glodt was a teacher when Zorn went through school.
“We have a handful of teachers who taught Ryan,” Glodt said Thursday. “They were all shocked by the news.”
Glodt said everybody at the Upton school liked Zorn.
“He was willing to do anything for anybody at any time. He was just that kind of kid.”
Zorn participated in football and wrestling but found his niche as a member of the speech and debate team, his father said.
“He was such a shy kid, but when he got on that debate team, he blossomed.”
Myron Zorn said his son planned to join the Army all through high school and was planning to retire after 20 years in the Army.
“He was going to come home in March and spend a month with us and then go to Germany,” he said.
But, he added, the Army had already told Zorn that after six months in Germany, he would probably go back to Iraq for a fourth tour.
Zorn said his son had served more than his share of deployments.
“The first time he went over to war, he came back and was pretty much the same kid,” Myron Zorn said. “The second time, there wasn’t much boy left in him. This third time, he sounded like an old man on the phone. He was wore out.”
The Army is still investigating the apparent accident, Zorn said in a phone interview Thursday. He said the Army doesn’t believe the rollover was caused by a roadside bomb. His son was not driving but was one of three or four people riding in the vehicle when it overturned. He was the only one killed.
Zorn said his son told him that the military vehicles in Iraq can roll easily because they carry so much heavy armor.
He said his son’s body has been flown to a military mortuary at Dover Air Force Base, Md., but he has received no information about when the body will arrive in Wyoming.
He is survived by his parents and a brother, Todd, all of whom live in Wright.
The family plans to hold funeral services in Wright and bury Ryan Zorn at Black Hills National Cemetery near Sturgis. But they don’t know when that will happen.
“It’s frustrating,” the elder Zorn said. “We’re just in absolute limbo.”
Contact Steve Miller at 394-8415 or firstname.lastname@example.org.