“When 9/11 happened, I was so upset. It was a traumatic event to our national psyche. My dad was shocked, too, but he fully understood that I wanted to serve in the military after that. What he didn’t understand is why I wanted to join the infantry.”
Ryan Ahl grew up in a military family, living all over the world before settling in Western Pennsylvania. Like many young men and women at the time, the attacks on 9/11 deeply affected him. Ryan felt he had to step up and serve the country, so he joined the Army National Guard while he continued his college studies. In the fall of 2004, his unit was activated and deployed to Iraq. His time overseas, which included intense combat encounters, forever changed how he values life and the worth of his fellow veterans.
This interview was recorded March 21, 2016 at the Senator John Heinz History Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Interviewer: Kevin Farkas. Special Thanks: Ryan Ahl, Todd DePastino, Senator John Heinz History Center. A production of the Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh Oral History Initiative. Executive Producer: Kevin Farkas. Videography: Kevin Farkas, Bryan Chemini. Editor: Jonathan Stile.
Ryan Ahl | Pennsylvania National Guard | Longest War
On episode 3 of Longest War, the podcast of VBC’s Post-9/11 Veterans Storytelling Project, we have an in-depth conversation with Pa National Guard veteran, Ryan Ahl, about deploying to Iraq as an infantryman, post-traumatic stress, commissioning as an officer, and helping fellow veterans though the VA’s community-based Vet Centers.