Dozens watch as Ryleys bench is unveiled in Cornelius

Arboretum Park hosts a quiet area to reflect and honor the fallen Navy sailor
by: Nancy Townsley A Cornelius police officer stands near a bench dedicated to Navy hospitalman Ryley Gallinger-Long.

Cornelius' newest park feature is a place for people to sit, relax and reflect on the sacrifices of men and women who serve in the U.S. military all around the world.

The labyrinthian circles surrounding the solitary bench at its center encourage meditation.

But most of all, it's a special spot where folks can go to remember Ryley.

On Monday, Cornelius city councilor Dave Schamp spoke about community son and Navy corpsman Ryley Gallinger-Long, who was killed in a war zone in the Middle East last August. Schamp's words came during an 8 a.m. ceremony dedicating the bench in Ryley's honor at Arboretum Park.

Gallinger-Long, 19, graduated from Forest Grove High School in 2010 and married Hope Young last spring. He joined the Navy and in July deployed to Afghanistan with the 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regimental Combat Team 1, 2nd Marine Division Expeditionary Force.

Less than a month later, he died while conducting a dismounted patrol in the Marjah district, Helmand province. Reports indicated he had been tending to a fellow serviceman at the time of his death.

'I never had the chance to meet Ryley as many of you did, but I know he was a great American,' Schamp said to a crowd of more than 40 gathered near the simple wooden bench paying tribute to the sailor.

'In memory of Navy Corpsman Ryley 'Doc' Gallinger-Long,' a plaque affixed to it reads.

Mayor Jef Dalin thanked Ryley's relatives - his wife, Hope Gallinger-Long; his mother, Susan Blanchard; his older brother Zack and his identical twin brother Wyatt - for their work on the memorial bench project, which fronts Baseline Street.

They, as well as other family members and friends, looked on as the bench - donated by Zack Gallinger-Long's employer, Oregon Heating and Air Conditioning of Tualatin - was dedicated in a 15-minute ceremony.

Police and fire officials from Cornelius and Forest Grove joined the throng as well. Ryley had been in the cadet program at Forest Grove Fire and Rescue.

'To the Cornelius community, you're family now,' Dalin said to Ryley's relatives. 'We won't forget Ryley's sacrifice.'

Zack Gallinger-Long told the group he was grateful that 'so many people are remembering Ryley,' especially during the holidays and extending into the New Year.

'We all miss him, and he's always on our minds,' Gallinger-Long noted.

Half a world away

Cornelius Police Chief Paul Rubenstein said that on Sunday, he called his brother, who's serving with the military in Afghanistan. During that short conversation, he mentioned Ryley's story and the upcoming memorial event in his hometown.

It was significant, Rubenstein told the group, that half a world away a soldier was remembering a comrade, one who made the ultimate sacrifice, on Christmas day.