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Nevis grad enjoys time in military

WO1 Ryan Vredenburg is in flight school. He is shown with his wife, Kelly. (Submitted photo)

By Anna Erickson

Nevis graduate Ryan Vredenburg is making his way up the ranks of the military and is now in flight school with the U.S. Army.

“I am so thankful for the opportunity to be here to learn how to do something that only a small percentage of the military gets to do let alone the rest of Americans,” he said.

The 2003 Nevis graduate is the son of Marvin Vredenburg, of Nevis, and Beatrice Taylor, of Detroit Lakes. He married Kelly Mostad, who is also a Nevis graduate.

He has received several commendations and awards including a Combat Action Badge, Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal and the Sikorsky Medical Award for MEDEVAC operations.

WO1 Ryan Vredenburg has had two deployments to Taji, Iraq, from 2006-09, as a UH-60 helicopter crewchief. He went to Fort Belvoir, Va., with the C Co. 12th AVN in support operations with the Military District of Washington from 2009-11 and ran maintenance. Then, he was with Germany C Co. 5-158th MEDEVAC out of Katterbach, Del., from Nov. 2011 to Jan. 2013 as a UH-60 helicopter crewchief and then ran maintenance for his team site while deployed to Kunduz, Afghanistan.

“While in Afghanistan I was able to participate in the German firing range for their Schutzenschnur (German Armed Forces Badge for Weapons Proficiency) and qualified gold,” Ryan said.

Officers can earn the badge. However, only the enlisted are allowed to wear it on their uniforms. Ryan also participated in a Belgium range and earned their gold badge for shooting. Foreign soldiers are allowed to earn it but not wear it.

He applied for warrant officer candidate school after encouragement from many people.

“Many of the crewchiefs I worked with shared an interest in building a flight packet, but talk was often louder than actions and most of the time the packet checklist didn’t even get printed off to start the process,” he said.

It wasn’t until Ryan was in Fort Belvoir, Va., that he became serious about submitting a packet for warrant officer school. He took some courses to boost his scores in certain areas and was selected.

His wife, Kelly helped him and was supportive of his decision.

“Kelly and I decided early on that we were making the Army a career so I was still working on that level,” Ryan said. “It just so happened to be the path of flight school. We arrived at Fort Rucker, Ala., in January and things have only picked up speed.”

School is going well for Ryan.

“My experience as a crewchief has helped me in quite a few ways I feel,” he said. “Flight concepts and aerodynamics were familiar to me on a basic level, so for a few classes I kept my head above water. All of my flight time in the back of a Blackhawk dealing with aviation radio communication made it very easy to accommodate my radio calls once I started flying.”

Ryan recently finished the instrument flight portion of his training. He took the civilian exam to earn his commercial pilot instrument certificate. Once flight school is complete, it will be active and Ryan can use it to get an aviation job down the road after retirement.

Ryan will graduate from flight school in the summer of 2014.

“This really is a humbling experience,” he said. “To everyone who has sent prayers, cards, care packages or just kept my family and I in your thoughts, I can’t thank you enough for your support.”

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
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