WASHINGTON – A Hagerstown native was among four security contractors killed in Iraq Wednesday when a roadside bomb destroyed an armored vehicle heading to the U.S. Embassy in Basra.
Ryan Brandt Young, 32, was working for Herndon, Va.-based Triple Canopy, a private security firm contracted with the State Department, where he performed “high-risk diplomatic security” in Iraq, according to his family.
His parents said they were told Thursday night that Young was riding in the first of a three-vehicle escort heading from the airport to the embassy in Basra, 340 miles south of Baghdad. Insurgents, they said, detonated a bomb attached to a guard rail as Young’s vehicle passed.
He and three other Triple Canopy contractors died. No one from Triple Canopy was available for comment Friday.
The State Department did not have figures available on the number of contractors killed during the rebuilding of Iraq, but according to the Web site Iraq Coalition Casualties, 264 contractors have died since April 2003.
Young was a 13-year veteran of the Navy, where he achieved his childhood dream of becoming a SEAL. By the time he left the Navy in July 2004, he was a SEAL instructor based at Coronado Island in San Diego.
“Since he was 14, he wanted to be a Navy SEAL, and really worked hard to achieve that goal,” said his mother, Pamela Young. “That was what he wanted to do and he was very happy with that.”
During his last three years in the Navy, Young was working toward a bachelor’s degree in management from National University in San Diego, which he received last fall.
His father, Gregory Young, said Young decided to join Triple Canopy shortly after leaving the Navy.
“He thought the risk would be the same whether he stayed in the SEALs or contracting, so if he had the same risk, he would do it for more money,” he said.
Though Young was enthusiastic about his work in Iraq, he expressed some reservations once he settled in Basra at the end of July, his father said.
Gregory Young said his son did not feel as safe in Basra as he did when working last spring in Kirkuk, 150 miles north of Baghdad.
“The local people in Kirkuk were very nice to him,” he said. “He didn’t have the same good feeling in Basra, but he knew he was there to do a job.”
Young was remembered by his family as a stickler for details and a busy athlete, engaging in marathon running, bicycling, mountain climbing and surfing.
“He was such a pleasant person and a very respectful person, and he always had a smile on his face,” said Pamela Young.
Said his father, “If you had a son, you’d want him to be like Ryan.”