By Geff and Monica Ward
As each Memorial Day approaches, we always enjoy the tributes that are written honoring those who have served our country so proudly. Seldom do we have an opportunity to honor those we love in the uniquely perfect manner.
However, on May 10, Charlie Company 2nd STB 4th ID out of Fort Carson, Colo., returned from a 12-month deployment from Afghanistan giving us the joyous occasion to put our thoughts on paper for those in our family who have unselfishly given years of service to the U.S. military, some of whom have proudly called Ramona “home” prior to their enlistment in the service.
We begin our thank you to the late Marion Fryt, who served in both the U.S. Army and Navy during World War II; Retired Lt. Commander Mitch Fryt, who served 21-½ years in the U.S. Air Force, and his son, Marc Fryt, a 2011 West Point graduate who was recently selected to receive specialty training to fly the OH-58 Kiowa Helicopter for the US Army. These men span three generations of service in one family alone, and we are proud of the integrity and commitment with which they served and continue to serve our country.
Secondly we would like to thank our oldest son, Bart Ward, who served four years in the U.S. Army and a tour in Afghanistan. Bart is a graduate of Ramona High School and left Ramona for the military where his life was changed forever. We are grateful for his service and his safety, and proud of the future that lies ahead of him with his beautiful family.
Our heartfelt thanks also go to our nephew, Matthew Ward who is currently stationed in New Mexico with the U.S. Air Force. He continues to train and wait orders for future deployment abroad.
Our final thank you goes to another unique group of men we have come to know as our “family” because of their enlistment with our son-in-law, Sgt. Donald Crandall. Donny was a longtime resident of Ramona prior to meeting our daughter, Bonnie. After the two were married in 2003, Donny enlisted in the U.S. Army and has seen a lengthy career that carried him through two deployments into Iraq and the latest one into Afghanistan. Throughout his career he has served with the following brave men who have become more than just lifelong friends: Staff Sgt. William (Hayden) Cavanaugh, Staff Sgt. Cameron Bristoe, Staff Sgt. Adam Vandewalle, Staff Sgt Thomas Boyett, Spc. Tyrel Ricket, SGT Julian Hernandez, Spc. Atahualpa (David) Tobar (now in the U.S. Air Force), Spc. Nick Burgener, and Spc. Matthew Conover, who earned a Purple Heart for injuries received during his deployment.
We cannot thank these men and their wives Carissa (Cameron), Alex (Adam), Danielle (Nick) enough for their years of courageous service in support of this country. Our personal gratitude goes out to Carissa (our adopted daughter) for her love and support of our daughter as they weathered each deployment. And to our daughter, Bonnie, you are truly a woman of strength, beauty, and determination. Your courage and perseverance will no doubt lead you into a successful career with the Coast Guard. We are proud of all of you and thank you for allowing us to be part of this amazing military family.
We would be remiss if we did not thank our family at San Vicente Community church for their participation in “Operation Sweet Tooth” last December. The packages sent to Charlie Company in Afghanistan were appreciated more than you will ever know.
God bless all of the men and women who are serving, and have served, in our military and those who have given their lives in pursuit of our freedom. Our family has the upmost respect and admiration for each and every one of you.
Geff and Monica Ward are Ramona residents.