Release Date: November 5, 2007
Saving Lieutenant Ryan’s World War II Memory at ASU
Angelo State University’s Air Force ROTC Detachment 847, the Robert G. Carr Squadron of the Arnold Air Society and the West Texas Collection (WTC) have teamed up to resolve some unfinished business from World War II with the annual Flag Retreat and Candlelight Vigil Ceremony as well as the opening of an exhibit on World War II.
The Flag Retreat will begin at 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 9, at the ASU flagpole in front of the Administration Building. The ceremony will then move to the monument at Memorial Oak Grove where the unfinished business will be resolved with the dedication of a new live oak tree in Memorial Oak Grove in memory of San Angelo College (SAC) World War II veteran Jay Arthur Ryan.
Activities will then resume in the West Texas Collection for the debut of an exhibit honoring Ryan and the 29 other SAC fatalities of World War II. The exhibit will also feature a look at SAC and West Texas during the war years. The West Texas Collection is located on the second floor of the Houston Harte University Center.
An Army first lieutenant, Ryan died as a prisoner of war on a Japanese transport bombed by Allied planes in Manila Bay on Dec. 13, 1944. His fate was unknown to SAC students and the supporters of Memorial Oak Grove when the trees were planted and the monument was originally dedicated on Armistice Day in 1949.
Each year in honor of Veterans Day, as Armistice Day was later renamed, Detachment 847 and the Arnold Air Society hold the Flag Retreat and Candlelight Vigil in remembrance of all San Angelo College and Angelo State University students who have lost their lives in service to the United States.
The story of Lt. Ryan was uncovered by the WTC research staff, who worked with the ASU ROTC detachment to honor the former student and gold star veteran. Ryan’s name will be added to the monument in Memorial Oak Grove, joining those of his fellow classmates who died in service to their country during World War II. Tom Johnston, president of the Tom Green County Historical Society, will represent the local Kiwanis Club, which helped fund the original purchase of trees and construction of the monument in 1949.
Transportation will be available at the tree dedication to assist people desiring to view the World War II exhibit in the West Texas Collection. The exhibit will feature a variety of photographs, documents, letters and artifacts from the WTC’s holdings as well as from the collections of several local families.
The exhibit provides vignettes of how World War II touched the lives of all West Texans. The exhibit is dedicated to those who lived through the war years, either on the battle front or on the home front. Collectively, those who lived through that era have been called “the Greatest Generation” in the popular media.
For information on the Flag Retreat and Candlelight Vigil, contact the Department of Aerospace Studies at (325) 942-2036. For more on the World War II exhibit, contact the West Texas Collection at (325) 942-2164.