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Air Force Tech. Sgt. Ryan A. Balmer

Died June 5, 2007 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

33, of Mishawaka, Ind.; assigned as special agent to the Air Force Office of Special Investigations; died June 5 in Kirkuk, Iraq, of wounds sustained when his vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device. Also killed was Staff Sgt. Matthew J. Kuglics.

Airman from Mishawaka, Ind., killed in Iraq

The Associated Press

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah — A 33-year-old airman from Indiana was killed in Iraq by an improvised explosive device, or IED, officials said June 6.

Tech. Sgt. Ryan A. Balmer of Mishawaka, Ind., was a special agent with Hill Air Force Base’s Office of Special Investigation. He was killed June 5 in Kirkuk, the Air Force said.

Balmer is survived by his wife and three children.

“This is a terrible loss and we will fully support agent Balmer’s family during this difficult time,” said Maj. Gen. Kevin Sullivan, Ogden Air Logistics Center commander.

Another agent, Staff Sgt. Matthew Kuglics, 25, of North Canton, Ohio, was also killed. He was assigned to Lackland Air Force Base in Texas.

“These warriors are examples of America’s finest and their sacrifice is proof of the heroes that make up the United States Air Force,” said Brig. Gen. Dana Simmons, OSI commander, headquartered at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland.

Since February 2003, 84 Indiana military personnel have died after being sent to the Middle East for the war in Iraq.

Wife of airman killed in Iraq returning to Great Falls

The Associated Press

GREAT FALLS, Mont. — The wife of a former Malmstrom Air Force Base airman killed in Iraq this week says she plans to return home to Great Falls with her family.

Air Force Tech Sgt. Ryan Balmer, 33, of Mishawaka, Ind., died June 5 when his vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device in Kirkuk. He was stationed at Hill Air Force Base in Roy, Utah, at the time of his death.

His wife, Danielle Balmer, a 1992 graduate of Great Falls High School, said her husband was scheduled to return the base June 20, and friends and family were planning a welcome home party for him in Utah.

“The neighbors and I have been preparing signs and getting everything ready,” she said. “He was very anxious to come home.”

The couple has an 11-month-old daughter and a 7-year-old son. Ryan Balmer also had an 11-year-old son from a previous marriage.

“We had the best husband and the best dad we could ever ask for,” Danielle Balmer said.

The two met in 1996, three years after Ryan Balmer came to the Great Falls base, and were married in 1997 at Malmstrom’s chapel. He worked as a load master during his time at the base, his wife said.

Balmer later joined the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, a duty his wife said he believed was his military calling.

He deployed to Iraq in December voluntarily, telling his wife “If I don’t go, somebody else is going to have to.”

“He put us first, before anything else. But he also knew he had an obligation,” Danielle Balmer said.

She called the support she’s received since her husband’s death from her Utah community, the military and friends in Great Falls “more than I could have ever imagined.” She also believes it is a direct result of her husband’s friendly personality.

“He’s just very, very, very loving,” she said. “He was never angry about anything. He was just a great man.”

500 attend funeral for Indiana airman killed in Iraq

The Associated Press

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — About 500 people attended a funeral service June 14 for a northern Indiana airman who was killed last week during a bombing in Iraq.

Air Force Tech Sgt. Ryan Balmer, 33, a 1992 graduate of Mishawaka High School, and another airman were killed June 5 in Kirkuk.

“People who would go out for their country and this land and other lands and make the ultimate sacrifice, no one has greater love than this. No one has greater love than this and those who would lay down their lives for a brother,” the Rev. Michael Jenkins said during Balmer’s funeral at Clay United Methodist Church.

Balmer’s family — including his wife, two sons and a daughter — led a procession to Southlawn Cemetery, where he was buried in the presence of a military honor guard.

“We are individual services but as a collective, we are one big family,” said Maj. Celeste Ross of South Bend’s Marine Company B. “Tech Sgt. Balmer has a second cousin who is part of our unit, and so we are all connected. And it’s important for us to be here to show them all we are family, and that we do support them.”

Balmer was in Iraq as an agent with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. The military said such agents often work outside air bases, seeking to identify and stop terrorist threats.

Family, friends remember airman killed in Iraq

The Associated Press

It was Air Force Tech. Sgt. Ryan A. Balmer’s smile that helped his fellow airmen when they were in harm’s way, said Brig. Gen. Dana A. Simmons.

“No matter how bad it got, no matter what they faced, they could always look to Ryan and see that goofy smile,” he said.

“Their words, not mine.”

Balmer, 33, of Mishawaka, Ind., was killed June 5 by a roadside bomb in Kirkuk. He was a 1992 high school graduate and was assigned to Hill Air Force Base, Utah.

“He’s not gone,” said Special Agent Nate Kerbs. “Anybody that’s known him or been around him has a piece of him.”

Those who knew Balmer said he never complained, and at 6-foot-2, he had a commanding presence wherever he went. It was Balmer’s duty to gather intelligence and help protect Americans and others.

“If there was any tension in the room, he would neutralize it immediately,” said Special Agent John Simbulan, another friend.

“That’s who he was, a calm, cool, collected person.”

He is survived by his wife, Danielle, 7-year-old Anthony and Gaby, 1. He also has another son, Joshua, 12, from a previous relationship.

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