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One of the last D-Day US Army Rangers dies at 96

Normandy D-Day (National Archives USA/WikiCommons)
April 04, 2019

One of the remaining Army Rangers to storm the shores of Normandy passed away in his home in St. Louis on Mar. 24 at the age of 96.

Charles Ryan served as an Army Ranger in the 2nd BN in WWII and was one of 225 Rangers that risked their lives in the D-Day Invasion at Normandy, the Associated Press reported on Saturday.

During the invasion, 50 of the 65 troops in Ryan’s unit lost their lives during the battle that began on June 6, 1944. In all, there were 225 Rangers that warded off fire from enemy artillery.

Ryan was wounded during the D-Day Invasion but that didn’t stop him from fighting in the Battle of the Bulge and the Battle of the Hurtgen Forest.

Ryan was assigned to the 2nd Ranger Battalion, which received the assignment along with the 5th Ranger Battalion in June 1944. The 2nd Battalion was tasked with landing on the beach, scaling the cliffs and securing the higher ground. Once reaching the tops, they were to use flares to signal the successful taking of the cliffs.

From there, their mission was to stop German forces from road access and attack the Maisy Battery.

France later commemorated the efforts of the 2nd Battalion with The World War II Pointe du Hoc Ranger Monument located on one of the cliffs scaled during the battle.

Ryan was awarded a Silver Star, Bronze Star with Valor, five Bronze Battle Stars, a Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster, French Croix De Guerre and Belgium Croix De Guerre, among others, his obituary stated.

Ryan graduated from Christian Brothers College H.S. and the University of Missouri. He was a remarkable youth athlete who qualified for the 1940 Winter Olympics in speed skating, however, the Olympics were canceled due to World War II.

Ryan founded several aerospace engineering companies post-war and remained active in them until he retired in 2009.

When Ryan wasn’t working, he enjoyed spending time with his family, particularly playing golf, tennis, bridge, and traveling with his wife of 68 years.

Ryan is survived by his wife of 68 years, and his children and grandchildren. A Memorial Mass will be celebrated at The Church of the Annunziata in St. Louis, Mo. on Friday, April 12 at 11:00 a.m. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be given to Christian Brothers College.