Interview of Ryan Leach by Joseph Gastaldo
April 4, 2014
Currently a student pursuing a double major in Political Science and Social Studies Education and a minor in Southern Studies at The Citadel, Specialist Ryan Leach served in the United States Army from 2002 to 2008, most notably as a member of the 545th Company, 1st Cavalry Division—the most highly decorated MP Company in American history. After two tours in Iraq—experiences that offered him exclusive perspectives on history-in-the-making as the Republic transitioned to democratic self-governance in the wake of Saddam Hussein’s 34-year totalitarian regime—Specialist Leach now looks to contribute through his civilian life as an educator of, and a role model for, our country’s next generation of soldiers and citizens.
Although Specialist Leach grew up in the Army as the son of a military-career mother, he nevertheless characterizes his own enlistment as a decisively formative—and transformative—experience. Through both his training and his deployment, he acquired not only the self-discipline and self-motivation that continue to drive his ambitious pursuit of excellence, but also a sense of responsibility to his fellow countrymen, whether it involve serving beside them on the front-lines or working alongside them in the classroom. In our interview, we discuss the process of transitioning into life as a soldier with all its quirks and idiosyncrasies, a process that not only teaches individuals the true limits of their physical and mental capabilities, but also prepares them to always expect the unexpected—skills invaluable on and beyond the battlefield.