HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah – Team Hill personnel participated in a ruck march here June 9 to honor the memory of fallen Air Force Office of Special Investigations Special Agent (Tech. Sgt.) Ryan Balmer.
SA Balmer, who was deployed from Hill AFB, was in a convoy June 5, 2007, returning to Kirkuk Regional Air Base in Iraq. Approximately two miles south of the base, an improvised explosive device detonated adjacent to the convoy, instantly killing him.
This year marked the 10th annual occurrence of the ruck march.
A special welcome was extended to Danielle Balmer, SA Balmer’s wife, who attended the event with their three children.
“I cannot express my gratitude enough, and my happiness about them (OSI) still continuing to do this,” she said. “It warms my heart so much to know that even after 10 years that this [ruck march] has remained. It means the world to me.”
Hunter Jones, former AFOSI Detachment 113 commander, and other former Det 113 personnel also participated.
“I remember vividly when I was here and the guy would just walk into the room and he’d light up the room with his infectious smile, his sense of humor that we all remember so well,” he said. “It’s just awesome that we’re able to come together and keep this thing going. I’m so happy to see that the torch has been carried by subsequent commanders. It’s truly a tribute to Ryan’s life; that’s what we’re for.”
SA Michael Bryant, current AFOSI Detachment 113 commander, said, “Det 113 has carried on this tradition to honor Ryan and his family. Agents from across the country have come to honor a fallen Airman.”
Participants marched a 5K or 10-mile route on the base; many donned rucks weighing up to 35 pounds.
“We (OSI) throw a ruck on to show our warrior ethos and have that deployed atmosphere,” said SA Bryant.
Working in OSI has its risks and agents have deep respect for the brothers and sisters they work alongside daily.
“The men and women here are very motivated and they understand the realities of the profession, and the risks that are inherent to it,” said SA Bryant. “They know that they do the same job as Ryan day in and day out, and they think of Ryan every single day when they’re doing the job.”
“Yesterday I was speaking to some of the guys at the det[achment] who never knew my husband, but when they were discussing this, saying how much it means to them and trying to explain it, I could see the tears almost welling up in their eyes, which of course made tears almost well up in my eyes,” said Mrs. Balmer. “It means the world to me because they didn’t know him but yet they still do this because he personally means that much to them. There’s no words to explain that.”
Bryant and all agents assigned to Detachment 113 are thankful for the support they have received from the base over the years.
“OSI and Det 113 appreciate the support of the base and of all the wings and tenant units on the base who have participated in this ruck march in the past and will in the future,” said Bryant. “We appreciate their support in honoring Ryan.”