Family, friends grieve Wyoming soldier killed in Iraq

2009-11-20T04:15:00Z Family, friends grieve Wyoming soldier killed in IraqSteve Miller Journal staff Rapid City Journal
November 20, 2009 4:15 am  • 

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

Copyright 2015 Rapid City Journal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(5) Comments

  1. South Dakota Resident
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    South Dakota Resident - November 20, 2009 2:01 pm
    God bless the family. RIP my friend.
  2. Military Spouse
    Report Abuse
    Military Spouse - November 20, 2009 7:31 am
    Having just lost my own husband who was in the AF, my heart goes out to the family. Its a tough tough thing to go through, and no amount of people saying "sorry for your loss" and "if you need anything call" will make it easier, especially with the upcoming holidays.
  3. Wyochick
    Report Abuse
    Wyochick - November 19, 2009 6:54 pm
    I went to school with Ryan and can not think of a time that he did not have a smile on his face. He was a great guy and my sympathies to his family for their loss.
  4. smalltowngirl
    Report Abuse
    smalltowngirl - November 19, 2009 1:20 pm
    I grew up across the street from Ryan. He was a really wonderful guy, always respectful and polite. He will be missed. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.
  5. dmd021
    Report Abuse
    dmd021 - November 19, 2009 12:49 pm
    THREE tours! God bless and keep this young man who made the ultimate sacrifice for all of us. I hope he and his family know how much it's appreciated. Not that that will ever come close to making up for their loss.
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