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Minnesota National Guard
Honoring our Fallen Soldiers: Sgt. Corey Rystad, Sgt. Bryan McDonough Task Force BEARCAT

CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq " "We lost two good men on Saturday and if the testimony of their friends and their leaders does not convince you of that I don't know what will," said Task Force Bearcat's Chaplain (1st Lt) Steven Timm during a Dec 7 memorial ceremony for two Bravo Company Soldiers at the Chapel of Hope.

Sgts Bryon McDonough of Maplewood, Minn, 22, and Corey Rystad of Red Lake Falls, Minn, 20, died when a roadside bomb rocked their Humvee on a patrol Dec 2 near Fallujah. Both were promoted posthumously.

"These men and their brothers fight back for their country " for their unit " but most of all, for each other," said Col George Bristol, commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force's Headquarters Group.

Capt Chip Rankin, company commander, told the more than 300 Soldiers, Marines and Sailors in attendance that he had called each Soldier's families and they both asked the unit to continue doing their mission to honor their sons.

Their platoon leader, 1st Lt Wade Blomgren, said he knew both Soldiers well.

"The duty they choose as did all of us" was a dangerous one that required personal sacrifice and a great deal of character, which neither one of these guys lacked," said Blomgren. McDonough was a strong, smart, positive role model who was "looked up to by every man in his platoon " including myself," said Blomgren.

"The one thing I will never forget about him is his heart," he said.

He said McDonough also asked him several times to find a spot for him on the deployment.

"I learned quickly that he had some maturity that went well beyond his years," said Blomgren.

McDonough's roommate, Spc Jacob Brown, said McDonough was one of the most squared-away Soldiers he had ever known.

"If you had a task for him to complete, he would never argue or complain"� unlike myself," said Brown. "And once the task was complete, it was always above and beyond what was required."

Rystad was a quiet professional who never complained about routine things like preparing gear for upcoming missions, his squad leader said. A few days prior to his fateful last mission, Rystad said there was no place he would rather be than with his squad in Iraq serving his country.

Sgt Adam Gallant said Rystad "did what he needed to do to ensure the job that we do was done right."

Gallant ended his eulogy by saying, "There are three things that nobody can ever take away from Corey Rystad: One, when it was Corey's time to go he did not sit on his hands, he answered that call; two, to borrow a line from a movie, Corey went out with his boots on; and three, Corey Rystad and Bryon McDonough are heroes. They are real heroes. They define the very essence of that word."

Rystad's friend, Spc Nicholas Maurstad, said Rystad was "down to earth and real."

"How he was always laughing and smiling even though it was completely unreasonable to be happy sometimes, that is what I will always remember about Corey," said Maurstad.

Several Soldiers, Marines and Sailors had a special way of remembering their fallen comrades in addition to the traditional saluting of their memorial boot stands. Some knelt down and kissed the dog tags hanging from their rifles, and several placed their hands on the helmets placed on top of their rifles.

McDonough joined the Minnesota Guard Sept 16, 2003. After completing basic training and advanced individual training, he was assigned to Troop G, 113th Cavalry in St Paul, Minn. He transferred to B Company for his deployment to Iraq.

His decorations include the Bronze Star Medal and Purple Heart, both awarded posthumously, the Combat Action Badge and the Good Conduct Medal.

McDonough is survived by his parents, Thomas and Renee; his sisters, Shannon and Katie; and his brother, Kevin.

Rystad joined the Minnesota Guard March 30, 2004. After completing his basic training and advanced individual training, he was assigned to C Company, 2nd Bn, 136th Infantry, based in Thief River Falls, Minn. He transferred to B Company in October 2005 for his deployment to Iraq.

His individual decorations include the Bronze Star Medal and Purple Heart, both awarded posthumously, the Combat Action Badge and the Good Conduct Medal.

Rystad is survived by his parents, James and Donna; his brothers, David and Brian; and his sister, Sarah.

By Sgt. 1st Class Clinton Wood
December 31, 2006

Sgt Bryan McDonough
Sgt Corey Rystad

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