A 19-year-old soldier from central Wisconsin who was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan is being remembered for his infectious attitude and quiet leadership.
Pvt. Ryan J. Larson of Friendship died Wednesday when insurgents attacked his unit in Kandahar Province, the Department of Defense said Thursday. Larson had been in the U.S. Army for just a year and was deployed to Afghanistan in April.
Larson was senior class president before graduating in 2010, Adams-Friendship High School Principal Timothy Hodkiewicz said.
“He had a quality of quiet leadership, common sense, very personable, not the too-talkative type,” Hodkiewicz told the Wisconsin State Journal. “He had the respect of everybody. A top-notch gentleman from top to bottom.”
Larson often wore a shirt with the recruiting slogan “Army Strong” and signed up for the service while still in high school, joining immediately after graduation, the principal recalled.
“He always wanted to join the Army and he enlisted as soon as he could,” Hodkiewicz said.
Students and staff were shaken by Larson’s death, and the school has made three counselors available, the principal said.
Shawn Groshek, the Adams-Friendship High School wrestling coach, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Larson “always seemed to be having a good time.”
“If you weren’t, he was going to have you have a good time,” Groshek said.
Larson wrestled in his junior and senior years at high school in the 103-pound weight class. Groshek called him a successful wrestler, with a record of 56-28 in two years.
The wrestling team at Adams-Friendship High School is selling ribbon magnets to honor Ryan Larson. Larson graduated from AFHS in 2010. He was a member of the wrestling team. Larson, 19, was killed last week while serving in Afghanistan with his unit which is based out of Alaska. Besides wrestling, Larson was class president, played in the band and ran cross country. Coaches say he had an infectious personality. Proceeds from the ribbons will go towards the purchase of a permanent memorial in honor of Larson that will go up at the high school.
For more information contact:
- Tyler Burrows 715-228-2212
- Trevor McManus 608-339-2422
- Nick Davis 608-474-0120