Hundreds gather in Forest Grove to say goodbye to Ryley Gallinger-Long
- Nancy Townsley
- Forest Grove News-Times - News
Navy medic, who died Aug. 11 in the Afghan War, is laid to rest at Portland military cemetery following Washington County funeral
Nineteen-year-old Ryley Gallinger-Long was remembered Saturday morning as a caring friend, a loving husband and as a hero who gave his life for his country and his fellow man.
Several hundred people filled the sanctuary at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints near Forest Grove High School, where Ryley graduated with the Class of 2010, to bid the Navy hospital corpsman from Cornelius goodbye.
The young serviceman died Aug. 11 while on duty with a Marine expeditionary force in the Helmand province of southwestern Afghanistan. He reportedly was killed while tending to a wounded Marine.
During the hour-long service, punctuated by sobs and a baby's cry, Navy Rear Admiral Margaret Rykowski thanked Ryley for his "honor and commitment" to the Navy and Marine Corps.
"It is the highest honor to give one's life for one's country," Rykowski said, "especially when that life was given trying to save the life of another."
Former FGHS teacher and football coach Mike McCabe said many in the community, particularly Ryley's friends, would remember him for his "half-smile, his humble charm and his awesome hugs."
McCabe said Ryley "wore his heart on his sleeve" and that his short life's theme was one of service to others. "Ryley knew what he stood for - he was a man of honor and discipline," McCabe said.
Known to the Marines in the field as "Doc," Ryley was "where he wanted to be" when he died, said his older brother, Zack Gallinger-Long.
"I take peace in that knowledge," said Zack, speaking to mourners in the packed sanctuary and especially to Ryley's young widow, Hope, and his identical twin brother, Navy fire controlman Wyatt Gallinger-Long.
Bagpipers led the procession into the church and piped the flag-draped casket back outside, where it was bound for burial with full military honors at Willamette National Cemetery in Portland around noon.
Ryley's high school classmate, Forest Grove Fire and Rescue intern Cody Brown, spoke directly to his friend during his remarks.
"Ryley, thank you for your sacrifice so that we can be free," he said.