John Dale Ryan

John Dale Ryan was born December 10, 1915, "and raised in Cherokee, Iowa, a small town in western Iowa.  He was the youngest of four children in a closely knit family."  At age 18, he entered the United States Military Academy at West Point "displaying  the fine qualities which, in the years ahead, were to make him an outstanding cadet, a courageous pilot and combat leader, an inspiring military commander, an effective and untiring organizer and administrator, a great Chief of Staff of the Air Force, a loyal friend and a rock-solid family man."    While at West Point he was on the football team, scoring the winning touchdown against Harvard in 1937. Ryan graduated from West Point in 1938 in the highest part of his class. After graduation, he spent 35 years as a military aviator.  He commanded a bomb group in World War II, flying 58 combat missions in B-17 bombers.  He earned "two Silver Stars, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, six Air Medals and the Purple Heart."  After World War II, he served in the Strategic Air Command as a bombardment  commander.  At age 36, he was promoted to Brigadier General.  After serving in several key assignments, he was promoted to General.  "In 1969, at the age of 53, General Ryan became the Chief of Staff of the Air Force.  He served with distinction for four years, under two presidents….With all his honors he remained a modest man, simple and straightforward in his approach to his problems, and to his associates."  During his service, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal five times.  He and his wife Jo had three children:  Jack, Mike and Patty Jo.  After retirement from the Air Force, Ryan settled in San Antonio, Texas.  He remained healthy until struck down by two heart attacks, dying on October 29, 1983.  [This material was taken from ASSEMBLY and REGISTER OF GRADUATES AND FORMER CADETS OF THE UNITED STATES MILITARY ACADEMY publications of the Association of Graduates, United States Military Academy.]