Ryan Conklin Reports On GIFF

May 10, 2010

Ryan ConklinRyan Conklin will be attending the 2010 GI Film Festival in Washington, D.C. During the run of the festival (May 11-16), Ryan will be a guest blogger/ correspondent for the program, covering GIFF’s primetime events.

Located at the Carnegie Institution of Washington, GIFF “will present films from new and established international and domestic filmmakers that honor the heroic stories of the American Armed Forces and the worldwide struggle for freedom and liberty.”

In addition to his role as guest blogger, on Friday Ryan will be attending a day-long GIFF seminar/workshop on filmmaking. The event will cover film financing, distribution, marketing and film pitching. It will also give attendees the chance to network with Hollywood insiders. It will be a good learning opportunity for Ryan A. Conklin, a film studies major at Temple University.

Read Ryan Conklin At GI Film Festival.

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Ryan Conklin On Dateline: Washington

April 26, 2010

Ryan ConklinTo promote his book An Angel From Hell, author Ryan A. Conklin was a guest on the radio program “Dateline: Washington”, hosted by Greg Corombos.

Greg asked Ryan about how Ryan knew right away after 9/11 that he wanted to join the Army. Ryan replied that he was what is known as a “9/11 baby”. He was one of the people that caused recruitment in the military to soar after the attacks. Ryan joined during his junior year in high school, when he was looking for what to do after he graduated. He wasn’t ready to go to college, so there was nothing pulling him away from joining. He wanted to go to Afghanistan to “put it to it to the guys who started this.” Furthermore, he didn’t want a cushy job. He wanted a front line job that would allow him to look the enemy in the eye. He decided the best fit for him would be in the infantry, and that’s what he got.

Greg mentioned that in the book, Ryan tells about having several different kinds of jobs. Greg wanted to know if Ryan’s training helped him. Ryan answered that the two years of training he had before he deployed to Iraq helped, but there was a “lack of accurate training”. It was cold war style, training in the woods in green camo with green face paint, and learning how to attack a bunker. There were essential things for being in Iraq that weren’t taught, like speaking Arabic. Once he got to Iraq, Ryan found himself learning as he went along on what he needed to know. Greg also asked about what urban fighting is like. Ryan said that it is about going out and being seen. It could be boring, but there were intense times with IEDs and sniper fire. Ryan explained that you always have to be ready and focused. It can be “zero to hell” in a second.

On the psychological toll, Ryan said it depended on who you are with. It can actually be comical in a Humvee. He said you would think the soldiers would be wide-eyed, staring out the window waiting for something to happen. In fact there is a lot of joking around, while still doing their job. It’s a way to make the best of it. Cutting the tension keeps people’s sanity and keeps them from being too wound up. Ryan said if you don’t have a sense of humor, you are doomed.

Greg asked Ryan Conklin what he hoped people would learn from the book. Ryan said that he wrote about what he saw and didn’t go above his area of knowledge. His style was to write like he was telling his story directly to an individual who knew nothing about what the service was like. From what he has been told by people who have read it, it makes the readers feel like they are out on patrol with Ryan, seeing what he saw.


Ryan A. Conklin On The Marc Steiner Show

April 7, 2010

Ryan ConklinOn April 7th, 2010, Ryan A. Conklin was a guest on The Marc Steiner Show, a radio show broadcast from Baltimore, Maryland. Ryan Conklin went on the show to discuss his memoir, An Angel From Hell. The host Marc Steiner was well versed in the details of the book and spoke with Ryan about several of the important parts in it.

Steiner asked about 9/11, which Ryan refers to at the start of the book. Ryan replied that he was in high school, planning on going to college, but not sure exactly what his plans would be after that. After 9/11, he was sure of what he wanted to do. He wanted to join the army. He joined at age 17 but waited until he graduated before going into uniform.

Steiner wondered if Ryan has considered why he joined the Army while other students did not. Ryan replied that it was something he wanted to do but it wasn’t something that many others did. He didn’t join because of following anyone else.

Next Steiner talked about Ryan entering Army training. Ryan explained that he had chosen to be an infantryman, but it was the Army that placed him with the 101st Airborne. Ryan was happy that to be part of it because of their traditions, such as their phrase, “rendezvous with destiny”. For him the airborne part was learning to jump out of helicopters instead of planes. He trained non-stop for 2 years before deploying. That amount of time was good for building camaraderie and giving him the training he needed to be effective in Iraq.

Steiner noted that the book is not a reflective work; it’s about what Ryan went through everyday. Ryan agreed that it is not an analysis, but rather a narrative about what daily life was like. He said he wrote it as if telling the story to a person who is ignorant of everything connected with the military. There are a lot of acronyms connected with the Army, but where Ryan used them, he provided definitions.

A major incident in the book is the death of Andrew Kemple and Steiner asked about it. Ryan stated that the war wasn’t personal for him until Kemple’s death. There had been injuries to friends that had caused some emotion, but Kemple’s death by a sniper hit Ryan with the reality of what could happen to any of the men in his platoon. There was a certain sense of comfort and familiarity of knowing what to do to protect yourself, but after the death of Kemple, Ryan started being more cautious and attuned to all the hidden dangers. Since there is no front line and no enemy in uniform, anyone could be the enemy. It was hard to deal with.

A few days after Kemple’s death several Iraqis were taken prisoner in relation to the sniping. As one of their guards, Ryan took his anger out on them, yelling and ranting and getting things off his chest. It felt good at the time, but while writing about it, Ryan felt that he had deviated from his usual good ways.

Steiner asked Ryan if he would still enlist if he had it to do over again. Ryan answered that yes, knowing what he knows now, he would. The friendships and life lessons from his time in the Army are invaluable. One of the important lessons he learned was how much greater his personal limits are than what he might have thought otherwise. The circumstances he was in, where he was pushed and where he was encouraged by seeing the endurance of his buddies, caused him to go beyond the mental barrier of his perceived limitations. He is still able to apply that expanded view of his ability in his everyday life.

However, now that he has done two deployments, Ryan has no interest in returning to the military. After the first deployment, he missed the camaraderie of his buddies and the good feeling from doing a job (as an infantryman) that he knew he was very good at. After the second tour, he had it out of his system to be an infantryman again. Technically, Ryan is still in the IRR, but the timing requirements of being recalled another time make it unrealistic for it to happen again.

On a question about the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), Ryan talked about his involvement with the group, including his participation in their “Storm The Hill 2010” campaign to lobby Congress for veterans’ issues. Ryan spoke with Congressman and Senators and staff of the President about the IAVA’s agenda.

A radio listener called in with a question, asking Ryan if he had considered joining Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW). Ryan replied that he had been to some of their events so that he could better understand their position, but their view is not necessarily what he consistently believes. His focus is primarily on the cause of supporting returning veterans.

At the end of the program, Steiner asked Ryan about one of the most striking passages in the book, which is a description of the visible aftermath of a suicide bombing. The words go into graphic detail of what a field of body parts looks like. Ryan explained that he wanted to adequately capture the horror of it. Referring back to the impetus for the whole book, he said he wrote the chapter as a way to get the images out of his head. For him this exercise was very effective, and he encourages other veterans also to use writing as therapy.


Ryan Conklin Speaks To Congress

February 8, 2010

Ryan A. Conklin IAVA

During the week of February 8-12, 2010, Ryan Conklin will be working in Washington, D.C. with the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) as part of a team to inform members of Congress about the organizations’s legislative priorities. The campaign is known as “Storm the Hill 2010” and it will help Congress to better understand the needs of our newest military veterans.

The 2010 priorities are modernizing the VA claims processing system, streamlining and simplifying the post 9/11 GI bill, securing jobs for veterans, eliminating combat stress stigma, and supporting better health care for female veterans.

Ryan will be part of “Team Bravo”, one of the seven teams of veterans that will be speaking to members of Congress and their staff.

You can learn more about the work that the IAVA is doing during this campaign and see how you help support it by going to www.stormthehill.org.


Ryan Conklin in MTV Special Return To Duty

October 31, 2009

Ryan Conklin in IraqThe long awaited MTV follow-up special about the recall to active duty and deployment to Iraq of The Real World Brooklyn‘s Ryan Conklin is finally going to be aired.

This is the description of the show:

Any viewer of The Real World Brooklyn vividly remembers the emotional moment when cast member, and Army vet, Ryan Conklin was unexpectedly recalled for a second tour of duty in Iraq. Return to Duty is Ryan’s gritty and very personal document of his return as a patrol gunner to the sweltering streets of Baghdad. Equipped with his own video camera, and the addition of a camera crew embedded with his unit, it’s a soldier’s view of America’s changing military presence in the long war in Iraq. His very close-knit family back home must cope with the fear and absence of their son fighting overseas once again; while his new found relationship with Brooklyn Real World roommate Baya is put to a critical test.

Click on the link for more about the MTV Ryan Conklin special Return To Duty, which premieres on November 11th.


Ryan A. Conklin An Angel From Hell

August 17, 2009

Ryan ConklinWith the advent of Ryan Conklin’s book being available for pre-order on various book seller sites, Ryan wrote a plug for his book in a blog post on his MySpace page. He provided information about what the book contained, why he wrote it, and what he hoped readers would get out of it.

As reported here before, the title “An Angel From Hell” refers to Ryan being in Company A of the 3/187th Infantry Regiment (Rakkasans). That company was known as the “angels From Hell”, so being a soldier in that company made Ryan one.

The scope of this personal memoir is the year that Ryan spent in Iraq during his first deployment there (2005-2006). While there, his company provided security for Saddam Hussein’s trial in Baghdad, then moved north to Tikrit, where they did combat missions in the Al Saladin Province. Ryan mentioned the various kinds of jobs he performed at that time, including rifleman, turret gunner, radio telephone operator, assistant gunner, and general morale booster.

The book came about because of the lack of any other means to resolve the deeply buried emotions that Ryan felt about his experiences in combat. He started writing about them and found the process to be a form of self-therapy. It was a way for him to let his guard down and be open about what he felt. He could draw his emotions from his mind, put them on paper, and then push them away.

Ryan included all the little things he did during both the good times and bad times. He put in things he was proud of and things he wasn’t so proud of. It took him a year, but eventually he ended up with 400 pages of his perspective of being a soldier in Iraq.

Interestingly, the book at first was intended to be for Ryan’s eyes only. Then at some point, he realized that other people might be interested in what he had to say as well. Now, he views his book as being meaningful for any reader. He hopes it will provide insight to all on what the men and women in the military do in Iraq and what kind of situations they face there.

An Angel From Hell – BUY THE BOOK!!


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