SUMMER 2014 / VOL. 14 ISSUE 2
JR: The majority of my family is Irish with the rest being from other parts of the British Commonwealth. Both my mother and father were born and generally raised in Ireland.
My mother, Aisling Ryan, was born in Blackrock, Dublin. She is the eldest of four children. Her father worked for Guinness and they moved around Ireland (Galway, Tipperary, and Dublin) and Northern Ireland (Belfast). She attended University College Dublin. My father, Brendan Ryan, was born in Templeogue, Dublin.
He is the middle child of three children. His parents lived in East Pakistan (Bangladesh, prior to its independence) and Saudi Arabia when he was a boy, so he went to boarding school in Dublin for part of the year before joining them for the holidays. He attended Trinity College Dublin.
After they married, they emigrated to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia where my father, an engineer at the time, was working. After staying in Saudi for few years, my father was hired by an American company headquartered in Texas. From Saudi, they emigrated England and from there, to Texas where my father had been offered a new position at his company. We ended up living in Corpus Christi, Texas for a few years. All of us enjoy windsurfing, so it was nice being a stone's throw from the Gulf of Mexico.
IAP: Have you ever been to Ireland?
JR: I have been to Ireland several times since we started living in the US. Last time I was there was in the summer of 2011. I went there to visit relatives living in both Ireland and England. One of my cousins was getting married so we had a family reunion in Ireland and then a wedding over in England.
In Ireland, I was mostly in Dublin. I went sailing with my uncle and cousins in the bay and went out on the town. With that said, my grandfather, my Dad and I made it to every corner of Dublin. We went over to Trinity College and visited some of his old haunts and stopped in a few pubs to enjoy a pint or two.
This last time around, I went and visited one of my cousins over in Rathmines. He is in the Irish Defense Forces and he took me on a quick tour of the Cathal Brugha Barracks. They have an excellent museum there which covers the military history of Ireland from the Easter Rising to the present day role of the Defense Forces in Peacekeeping Operations in Lebanon and elsewhere.
IAP: The Irish have a long tradition of military service. Do you feel part of that age-old line of Celtic Warriors?
JR: I will agree that the Irish have a long history of military service. If you dig back in our family history, we have a few fellows who came over to America to fight in the American Civil War. On the cessation of hostilities, went back to Ireland with their new found tactical experience to aid in revolts against the Crown.
My great grandfather fought in the Irish War of Independence and continued to serve in the Army until he retired as major. He was stationed at Collins Barracks (formerly the Royal Barracks) in Arbour Hill once it was relieved from British control following Independence. To say that I am part of a line of Celtic warriors would be a bit of a stretch, I'm not exactly running with the Fianna. I am now an American and I fight for my country, its people, and our ideals.
iAP: Are you a sports fan? Ever play Gaelic football or hurling?
IAP: Do you play any instruments?
IAP: Do you have much of an opportunity on your duty tours to enjoy your Irishness?
JR: We have a high operational tempo on aboard our Patrol Base. I was on patrol this past St. Patrick's Day. Periodically, I get to go to Mass which is a nice change of pace.
IAP: Do you have a lot of Irish/Irish American buddies in your units?
JR: Yes, we do have a lot of Marines with Irish ancestry. In my company, there is another Marine, Lance Corporal Strange, who is also from the Dublin area.
IAP: What is your hometown? What drew you to the Marines?
was drawn to the Marine Corps for a few reasons. The Marine Corps is a
highly disciplined and effective fighting force, yet it also is performs
a host of non-combat missions. Over the course of its long and rich history,
the Marine Corps has consistently been America's quick reaction force,
there fastest and ready to serve in whatever capacity should our nation
require. I wanted to serve my country and protect the ideals which I hold
dear. It seemed a natural fit to be out front with those who are always
IAP: Are you married? Any pets back home or when growing up?
IAP: Where did you train?
IAP: What have been your jobs and missions in Marine service?
IAP: What is it like to be a Marine today? What is the toughest
part of your job?
IAP: Where are you based, What can you do to relax between missions?
IAP What is next? Will you be among the last American units to
pull out of Afghanistan? Will you re-up?
IAP: Did you join the Marines to see the world?
LCpl. Cein Strange
IAP: What's your Irish Heritage?
IAP: Is there Irish heritage on both sides of your family?
IAP: Where were you born in Ireland?
When I lived in Celbridge, we lived in a housing estate so I was always out playing with the neighborhood kids. When we moved to Longford we had a couple of kids who lived in the neighboring houses but it was on a main road so we didn't have as much freedom to go out and play. Roscommon was very rural where we were ,so I'd ride my bike to friends' houses that were relatively close. I had a best friend who lived about a two-minute walk from me which was good and we would always play in his back garden or jump ditches on the bog.
I have been back once since moving to the States. When I was there, we spent time with my sister who still lives in Dublin and met up with my other sister who is now living in Beijing. While we were there, we looked around Dublin to see what had changed and took the DART out to Bray. We were trying to catch a Leinster Rugby game one of the days but never managed to get tickets.
IAP: How do you celebrate your Irish heritage? Who are your favorite
I actually really like Liam Neeson. I feel like he is one of the under-estimated bad-asses of the big screen. I don't have any Irish bands I listen to anymore. At Christmas, I still listen to "Fairytale of New York" by the Pogues. Although I hate to admit it as a kid I loved the Irish pop band Westlife. Thank god, I grew out of that, though.
IAP: The Irish have a long tradition of military service. Do
you feel part of that age-old line of Celtic Warriors.
IAP: What is your favorite sport and team?
IAP: Do you play any instruments?
IAP: Do you have much of an opportunity on your duty tours to
enjoy your Irishness?
IAP: Do you have a lot of Irish/Irish American buddies in your
IAP: When did you enlist? What drew you to the Marines?
I trained at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, SC. I have to say that it was definitely hot. I think that the training was beneficial and an incredible learning experience. The Island itself is pretty if you aren't a recruit there because you aren't exactly stopping to take it all in. I want to go to the police academy when I get out so it will be another "boot camp" atmosphere. I'm sure it won't be as fast-paced or stressful though because I know what to expect out of DI's.
Being in the military was something I was always interested in but did not think I was eligible due to my lack of United States citizenship. Once I found out, I was eligible to join the military I chose the Marine Corps because it has the reputation for being the best. I am the first member of my family to be in the Marines.
IAP: Are you married?
IAP: What have been your jobs/missions in Marine service?
IAP: What's it like to be a Marine today? What's the toughest
part of your job?) What challenges are there?
I don't think having no showers on our PB is the toughest part of our job. We are still able to maintain a good level of hygiene with baby wipes and so on. I think we are relatively lucky with the conditions we live in because Marines before me have had it much worse. Some challenges would be that Marines are constantly evolving and adapting to the battle-space and to the war at hand. You need to be able to learn quickly and efficiently in order to be effective.
IAP: Where are you based, what can you do to relax between missions?
IAP: What's next?
IAP: Do you get many chances for leave to visit family when on leave?
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