Monday, May 2, 2011

A Thank you from Ric Ryan

Just to let you all know, last Saturday at the spaghetti dinner in Copper for Veterans I got a letter from Timothy A. Miller, M.D. F.A.C.S he is with Operation Mend. He sent me a UCLA Operation Mend challenge coin that is so cool, also at the dinner I received $ 585.00 from vets that were at the dinner. When my family and I left the dinner I reached in my pocket and pulled out the money and counted what I received and started to tear up. The people of Calaveras County are the best. They all really do care about our young men and women fighting for our great country. Also while walking this morning a couple pulled over and stopped me and gave me a $100.00 for the troops. Again I started to tear up. It blows me away how people can still give when so many are having a hard time with the way jobs are in this county.
I want to thank everyone for their support in this cause that I am walking for, I could not do it without the help from you all.
Thanks again  Ric    The Walking man of Murphys

Charity Maness reading the letter from Dr. Timothy Miller, Chief Surgeon of Operation Mend.

Ric Ryan addressing the crowd at the veteran dinner explaining how and why he is raising money for Operation Mend.
Pictures by Kyran Enzi.

To date Ric has raised approximately $4000 dollars for Operation Mend.

The following article, written by Charity Maness  in late August of 2010, chronicles the beginning of Ric's journey.

Marine Ric Ryan Walks to Raise Money and Awareness for Returning Wounded Vets ~ By, Charity Maness
Turning 21 in the jungles of Vietnam was not an uncommon story to hear in the sixties, turning your experience into something that can help others? That’s where Ric Ryan’s story begins.
Recalling his 21st birthday celebrated in a foxhole in Vietnam sucking back a couple of warm Schlitz beers procured with much difficulty by his buddies, Ric Ryan didn’t dare envision a fairytale dream-like future with a beautiful loving wife, three grown children and a keen desire to help veteran’s, he simply strived to survive, to live another day.
In ’68, after serving 4 years, 1 month and 23 days in the United States Marine Corps, operating in areas of Vietnam: Da Nang, Chu Lai, and Marble Mountain, Ric Ryan came home to an angry country, one that not only did not honor the uniform he so proudly wore, but one that held his service to his country in distain. Offered a job as an ironworker he accepted and worked the high rises in San Francisco and Berkeley, with a birds eye view of the violent protests in peoples park.  
Within a year of returning home he met the woman of his dreams…Joanne. Now married 40 years and happily retired he revisited his memory, the one where a proud soldier was not allowed to wear his uniform when he came home from war, for fear of retaliation or public harassment. He knew he needed to make a difference for our men and women returning home from war, a war that is not popular in many minds. This where Ric draws a clear distinction, “Whether we agree with the war or not, we have to support our troops…100%. These young people are our future. They have a tough job, I know, I’ve been there…done that.”
Impressed with the incredible work that Operation Mend, a joint medical effort between UCLA and Brooke Army Medical Center, has achieved with regards to returning our wounded servicemen to recognizable persons after massive facial injuries due to war related injuries, Ric wanted to help. Just how he was to help such an organization was the question. Trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle, Ric began to walk and took note of the waves as he walked. Hatching an idea he began to count the waves he received on his daily walks and tallied them at the end of the day, putting 25 cents into a savings account for each wave. Living on Social Security and some retirement from the ironworkers, Ric found that the financial tally of his waves at times exceeded his budget, but none-the-less made up the difference when the first rolled around and the check was in the mail.
Soon word spread that Ric was walking for wounded vets and he was appropriately dubbed ‘the walking man of Murphy’s.’ Barely able to control his emotions he told of a time when a gentleman that saw Ric walking pulled over on the side of the road, silently walked to Ric shook his hand, handed him $30 and said, “I’m a Marine.”  Another day a woman handed him $20 and said, “My brother fought in Vietnam.”  Remembering those days Ric, lost in silence,  took a moment to compose himself before the interview continued.
Ric’s goal was to walk from his home in Murphy’s to the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C., a place he would like to honor with a visit to say goodbye to some of his friends before he dies. But the logistics of that dream proved to be too difficult. “If someone would sponsor me for that walk, I would leave tomorrow.” He said with pride. Without being able to make his dream walk a reality, his son in law helped Ric with a virtual map of the 2771 mile route he would have taken if he could have gone, where Ric methodically charts and plots each mile he has walked.
To date Ric has walked throughout Calaveras County and some of Tuolomne County a total of 2388.4 miles. Which leaves just over 350 miles to go to achieve his goal of walking the 2771 miles it would take to reach the Vietnam Wall.
Raising almost $1000.00, quarter by quarter, wave by wave, Ric strives to raise more so that he can also help local service men or women returning home that are in need of extra medical care. If you would like to help Ric with his mission please contact him at or give him a call at 209-728-2388.
If you see a man walking down our many roads wearing a bright orange vest, donated by Ric’s friend at Gold Electric fearing Ric wasn’t visible enough, clearly marked USMC on the back, be sure to wave or better yet, stop and donate to help Ric help our returning wounded troops have the possibility of leading a rewarding and long life.
Operation Mend,
"It is the divine right of man to appear human."
-16th Century Chapel Inscription
University of Bologna, Italy

Since the writing of that article, through the generosity of a local philanthropist, Ric and his wife were able to visit the Vietnam Wall in April 2011.

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