CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A 2004 graduate of The Citadel was one of four Air Force officers killed Saturday in plane crash in East Africa.
According to The Citadel, 30-year-old Capt. Ryan Preston Hall was a U-28A utility pilot on his seventh deployment overseas when the aircraft he was in crashed near Camp Lemonnier in the East African nation of Djibouti. The aircraft went down during a routine intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission for the war in Afghanistan around 8 p.m. Saturday, local time.
Camp Lemonnier is the only U.S. military base in Africa. The base is home to the U.S. Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, which has played a role in counter-terrorism and counter-piracy operations.
Hall, who is originally from Colorado Springs, Colo., and the other three men killed were all U.S. Air Force personnel from the Hulburt Field military base in Florida. Hall had been assigned to the 319th SOS at Hurlburt Field since 2007 and had more than 1,300 combat flight hours.
Hall entered the Air Force in 2004 after receiving his commission and a history degree from The Citadel. As a cadet he was a squad leader and platoon sergeant and active with the Lutheran Campus Ministry. During his senior year, he was the Delta Company executive officer, the number two ranking cadet in the company. Hall also was a member of the 2004 Summerall Guards, but was most active in the Air Force ROTC unit, said his friend and Citadel roommate, David Barrett, Delta Company commander in 2004.
Barrett and Hall both contracted with the Air Force while at The Citadel. They were roommates all four years. Barrett said Hall received his pilot slot his junior year, but it was his training assignment with the MC-130 aircraft that got him really interested in special operations.
Barrett said Hall had been deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan before his latest assignment in Africa.
"He was incredibly outgoing, fun, sarcastic, liked to hang out, did not matter who with or where," Barrett said. "He's my best friend – there's not one thing I will remember that I can narrow down to. I will remember a lot."
Funeral arrangements for Hall are pending.
Hall is the 16th alumnus of The Citadel and third member of the Class of 2004 to die in action associated with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
A 2004 Citadel classmate who did not want to be named told Live 5 News, "In light of everything that happened he was a hero. He was dedicated. He's the epitome of the definition of a Citadel man. He was a phenomenal cadet, a great human being and fought for his country and paid the ultimate price with his life."