Ryan Iannelli, former ORU athlete dies in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan
As per the latest reports provided by school officials, a helicopter crash on Wednesday in Afghanistan led to the death of the former Oral Roberts University baseball player Ryan Iannelli.
Iannelli assigned to Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 269, Marine Air Group 29, 2nd Marine Air Wing, II Marine Expeditionary Force
Marine 1st Lt. Iannelli was only 27 years of age working as a pilot. At the time of his death, he was involved in combat operations in the province of Helmand. As per the information provided by the Department of Defense, Iannelli was a resident of New Jersey working with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 269, Marine Air Group 29, 2nd Marine Air Wing, II Marine Expeditionary Force.
In his sports career, he played four seasons with the Golden Eagles which also included a trip to the NCAA Super Regional. Apart from this, he also played in the outfield and as a pinch-runner. His Facebook profile gave the information that he had a graduate degree in public relations and advertising.
A very smart and high energy person: ORU coach Rob Walton
Expressing his grief over the sudden death of Iannelli, ORU coach Rob Walton said in a statement, “He was one-of-a-kind. Ryan will be sorely missed. He was one of us, and he was a big part of my life. He was making a difference, and he believed in the difference he was making. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family."
Walton was close to Iannelli, as both belonged to New Jersey native and Walton was in touch with Iannelli after his graduation as well. Praising Iannelli and remembering the moments spent with him, Walton said, "Ryan was a great kid who was from a town not far from where I grew up. He was a high-energy person, very smart and a really good teammate. I remember one time I was having health problems and had to leave practice. I was in the hospital, and he came by with a slice of pizza from our favorite New Jersey pizza place."
Firmly devoted to his religion
Nate Araskog, a friend of Iannelli's as well as his strength coach at ORU, also showered words of praise and said that he was not only dexterous but also a fun loving person. He extended hand of support towards his buddies and always came on time for practice sessions of sports classes. Araskog further added, "Friends like that are few and far between. Ryan's a rare guy. You don't find guys like him anymore.”
Iannelli was also praised by his friends for his dedication towards his religion, and for his firm decision making, as he never looked back after joining the marines.
It is really sad to note that more than 6,250 U.S. troops have died in Iraq and Afghanistan in the past two months. This figure also includes 12 members of the Oklahoma National Guard 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.