Edward R. Ryan was the second of three children born to Rody Roger Ryan and Jean Undeland Ryan of Gillette, Wyoming - Omaha, Nebraska and later Culver City, California. Rody attended Creighton University Law School and practiced law as an attorney in Beverly Hills, California. Jean had done some school teaching and retail work and she was also an accomplished violinist, studied in Prague and was the lead violinist at MGM Studios. His paternal grandparents were Irish immigrants and his maternal grandparents emigrated from Norway to Omaha, Nebraska. His maternal grandfather was Sir Andrew L. Undeland of Omaha and was the Vice-consul for Norway in the Midwest (knighted by the King of Norway).
He attended Hamilton and Loyola High Schools in California. Prior to entering the service, he worked at North American Aviation, Inc. on a production line building P-51's. He was survived by my mother and myself, maternal grandmother, mother and one sister. When he was six years old, his father died suddenly and on the day of his father's funeral mass, his eight year old brother, Robert, drowned in a family friend's pool.
My mother went on to marry again when I was three and again in 1992 after my first step-father's death. After graduation from high school and two years of college, I served four years in the United States Air Force Medical Corps in the Vietnam years. I then went on to nursing school and retired from Public Health nursing.
Photograph of Ed Ryan's P-51B Mustang "Roberta", named after his daughter. Lt. Ryan was shot down while strafing an airfield near Chartes flying "Killer", Capt. Bob Stephen's S/N 43-6382 GQ-S Mustang.
Lt. Edward R. Ryan was assigned to the "Pugnacious Pups", 355th Fighter Squadron, 354th Fighter Group, and flew a P-51B Mustang, S/N 43-12130, "Roberta" named for his daughter. He was killed on a mission over France on April 5, 1944 having a record of four kills and four damaged enemy aircraft in aerial combat. His awards were the Silver Star, Air Medal with 6 Oak Leaf clusters and the Purple Heart.
Roberta and Lorraine after medal ceremony at March Field, California, 9 January 1945.
He is buried in Epinal National Cemetery in France. He entered the service from California, was married and completed basic training at Gardener Field. After graduation from Advanced Flying School, Class 43-E, Yuma, Arizona, May 20th 1943, he was sent to England in October and assigned to the 354th Fighter Group. He flew bomber escort missions out of Boxted over Germany until April 1944. On April 5, 1944 he was flying a strafing mission over a German airfield in France where his plane was hit by enemy fire and crashed.
Capt. Clayton Kelly Gross, USAAF Retired
Ed came to my flight while we were in Portland, Oregon training in P-39 fighters. As was the Army Air Corps policy, he arrived with two other new pilots in alphabetical order - Radojits, Rhing and Ryan. They were the three best pilots I found in any replacement group in the course of the war. Unfortunately none survived the war.
Ed was in my flight and he was off my right wing the day he went down while strafing a German airfield.
Maj. Chuck Hawley, USAF Retired
I met Ed when we were flying out of the south of England, and living in Quonset huts, he was in the same hut. I hadn't been with the 354th but a month or so and hadn't had time to get to know any of the fellows very well before he was shot down.
I remember seeing him get shot down. It was a strafing run over an airfield in Belgium. We caught the Germans with their planes out on the tarmacs and raced across the field only once. The Germans had "flak towers” around the perimeter of the field where their gunners were positioned at the same height as our strafing run. I saw an open hanger with a Heinkel bomber in it and went after that one. Off to my left I saw a sheet of flame running the length of the runway, and knew that it was one of our planes that had caused it.
When we got back to our base and they took account of who was lost, I learned that the plane was Ed's. He was hit by one of the flak tower gunners.