Army Spc. Ryan Richardson, son of B.J. Richardson of Manito
and Jennifer Wiseman of Pekin, and a graduate of Pekin Community High
School, was severely wounded Oct. 13 while engaged in hazardous duty in
Despite extensive injuries, Richardson - now receiving treatment at Brooks
Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston, in San Antonio, Texas - hopes to
return to active duty.
A scout (airborne) with the 140th Cavalry out of Fort Richardson in
Anchorage, Alaska, Richardson enlisted with the Army in 2005. His father
recalls that Ryan “saw it as a good way to provide for his family.”
Richardson, 22, is married to Rachel (Powell) Richardson, a Pekin
native. They have a toddler son, Isaiah, born just three months before
his father left for basic training in Kentucky. Richardson’s home station is in
Anchorage, Alaska, and that’s where Rachel and Isaiah have been living since
Ryan was deployed to Iraq in September of 2006.
That’s where Rachel received the dreaded call from the captain of her
The morning of the incident (it was evening in Alaska), Richardson was
patrolling in advance of a larger contingent of troops, his duty to spot and
report back on dangers. An explosion occurred when he stepped on and
triggered a buried Improvised Explosive Device.
No one else was injured in the blast.
“He was taken into surgery for four and a half hours in Baghdad, to repair
the left side of his face,” reports Cheryl Taylor of Pekin, Richardson’s
aunt by marriage. “They had to rebuild his sinus cavities and clean his
wounds and repair his nose. He had extensive injuries to both hands and
received shrapnel and debris wounds all over him. Miraculously, his torso
and legs are okay.”
Following the emergency surgery in Baghdad, Richardson was transferred to
Germany for stabilization. From there, he was brought stateside, to the
hospital in Texas. He arrived there Oct. 18.
In the meantime, Rachel Richardson turned to her family for help. Arranging
for her father, Mark Powell, and her grandparents, Bob and Dawn Powell, all
of Pekin, to care for Isaiah, she flew down to drop him off. The next day,
she continued on to meet her husband when he arrived at the hospital in
Rachel knows Isaiah is in good hands. “He’s been down here a lot,“ says Dawn
Powell. “He knows us and he’s having a great time. Everyone’s bringing him
toys. He’s got so much to do.”
On Oct. 19, Richardson was released into the care of his wife. They are
staying at a hotel near the military hospital while he receives treatment
and therapy on a daily basis as an outpatient. The treatment will likely
last for several more weeks.
Rachel sends updates back to the family by phone. “He’s actually doing very
well,” she reported on Tuesday. “He remembers what happened, but he doesn’t
want to talk about it. He’s feeling good. They released him to me Friday,
but he can’t leave Texas until his hands are healed.”
On Wednesday, Spc. Richardson spoke for himself. “I’m doing pretty good,” he
said of his condition. As for being injured, he said, “I can’t complain.
It’s part of the job. You know what you’re getting into when you go over
While his future in the military depends on how fully he recovers, he
believes the chances are good that he will return to active duty, and
that’s the way he wants it. He intends to finish out his five year
commitment if possible. “I like the military style,” he reflects. “And I
have a job to do.”
About military living, he lists only a single regret: “It doesn’t leave a
lot of time for family.”
Richardson will receive a convalescent leave after he is discharged from the
hospital. The couple plan to spend that in Pekin, before returning to
Friends of the family have organized a fund to help the Richardsons defray
the costs associated with their stay in Texas. An account has been set up at
First Bank in Bartonville, and collection canisters are being placed at
various locations in Pekin and Groveland. Anyone wishing to get a card to
Ryan can send it c/o Dawn Powell, 400 Sherwood, Pekin, Illinois, 61554.