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Army 1st Lt. Michael L. Runyan

Died July 21, 2010 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

24, of Newark, Ohio; assigned to 52nd Infantry, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii; died July 21 in Balad, Iraq, of injuries sustained when insurgents attacked his convoy vehicle with an improvised explosive device in Muqdadiyah, Iraq.

Hawaii-based 1st. lt. killed in Iraq

The Associated Press

HONOLULU — The Department of Defense says a Hawaii-based soldier from Ohio has been killed in Iraq after insurgents attacked his convoy vehicle with a bomb.

The Department of Defense said Friday that 1st Lt. Michael Runyan of Newark, Ohio, died Wednesday in Balad of injuries received in Muqdadiyah.

The 24-year-old Runyan was assigned to the 52nd Infantry, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks. The brigade deployed to Iraq this month.

A native of Ashland, Ohio, Runyan earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice in 2008 from Xavier University in Cincinnati, where he was an ROTC cadet.

Runyan’s brother, Alex Runyan, says he graduated from Ashland High School, where competed in golf, tennis and swimming.

His parents, Jeffrey and Renee Runyan, have lived in Newark since 2003. His mother, Renee, teaches math at Granville High School.

Sister-in-law, Brittany Runyan says the soldier had visited Ohio before he deployed on July 1.

“Michael had this amazing energy,” she said. “He could make anyone laugh, and could always cheer you up. Everybody adored him.”

Runyan followed older brother into military

By Anna Sudar

The (Newark, Ohio) Advocate

NEWARK, Ohio — Those who knew Army 1st Lt. Michael Runyan remember the 2008 Xavier University graduate as a positive person and a soldier who was dedicated to his country.

“He always carried a wonderful smile,” said his brother, Marine Capt. Alex Runyan, stationed in California. “He always kept everyone in a good mood.”

Michael Runyan, 24, died July 21 in Balad, Iraq, from wounds from a roadside bomb, according to a news release from the Defense Department.

Runyan earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice at Xavier while serving as an ROTC cadet, the university said in a statement. He was a member of the Xavier ROTC’s intercollegiate competitive team and a member of the honors society.

“It is with great sadness that we learned of the death of 2008 Xavier University graduate First Lieutenant Michael Runyan in Iraq,” the statement said. “Every young man and woman who attends Xavier University contributes in no small measure to the community we create together at Xavier. The loss of any one of them wounds us all. Michael’s death also touches our hearts as he died courageously serving our country.”

Runyan arrived in Iraq for his first deployment in early July. He was serving as a platoon leader with the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, when he was killed, according to the Defense Department.

Runyan; his brother, Alex, 26; and his sister, Lesley, 28, were raised in Ashland. His family moved to Newark shortly after Michael graduated from Ashland High School in 2004.

The Runyan family was well-known in Ashland. His father, Jeffrey, was a former Ashland County Common Pleas Court judge, and his mother was a teacher in Ashland for many years.

In high school, Michael Runyan swam on the swim team, played tennis and was captain of the golf team his senior year.

He qualified for the state golf tournament during his senior year, said his former coach, Pam Leonard.

“He was the sweetest kid and the toughest kid at the same time,” Leonard said. “He was so special.”

Runyan was inspired when his brother Alex joined the Marines, Leonard said.

“He really took on the attitude that he wanted to serve in the military,” she said. “He wanted to be an [Army] Ranger, and that¹s what he did.”

Runyan joined the Army after graduating from Xavier. As a platoon leader in Iraq, he was in charge of a unit of more than 30 soldiers. His unit was on a convoy mission in Muqdadiyah when they were attacked. The others in the unit were not hurt.

“He was a super guy,” Wilson said. “This is really saddening.”

“He is going to be missed by a lot of people,” said Rick Boyer, who was Runyan’s pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Ashland for 11 years. “He was a great guy.”

Boyer, who now is a pastor in Southampton, N.Y., said Runyan always was respectful and loved his family.

“He had a high degree of integrity,” he said. “He was the kind of guy you enjoyed being around.”

Runyan was very proud of being in the Army, Boyer said.

“I do know he was [in Iraq] because he wanted to be there,” he said. “He was serving his country, and he did that with honor.”

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