Ryan Balmer was a special agent with Hill Air Force Base's office of special investigation, and was killed while on mission yesterday.
Today, those who call him a son, cousin and friend are preparing his homecoming. Just not the one they had planned for.
“The young man deployed in support of his country , the support of our mission over there and he’s an example of the best and brightest this country has and he’s made the ultimate sacrifice,” Col. Mike Zenk of Notre Dame’s ROTC tells us.
The ultimate sacrifice was made during what was set to be Ryan Balmer’s very last mission in Iraq.
He was supposed to return to the united states this week, and in anticipation of her sons homecoming, Balmer’s mother flew to Utah.
”She is at Hill Air force base in Utah, because she went out there to surprise him when he came,” Ryan’s uncle Roger Deacon tells us.
Here in Michiana, members of Balmer’s family found out today.
Arden Balmer, who is Ryan’s cousin, just welcomed his son home from Iraq, with the return of South Bends Company B Marines.
“I just remember the joy we had the excitement seeing our son getting off the bus, and knowing of Ryan will not be getting off the bus,” Arden says.
Instead, they're expecting Ryan by air. He is being escorted back to the United States by his cousin, and fellow airman Andy Deacon.
‘”They were born about one month apart so they just kind of grew up together. Ryan joined the air force when he was 20, and my son joined when he was 21,” Roger Deacon says.
The cousins enlisted a year apart, but will be coming back to Michiana together tomorrow.
However somber the return may be, deacon's father is counting his blessings, and hoping the best for all of the country's best and brightest.
“When he comes home tomorrow well be able to sit down and hold him and hug him, and thank god he’s safe, and just wish all the other soldiers over there come home safe too.”
Balmer was a 1992 graduate of Mishawaka high school.
He is survived by his wife, and three children, and many other family members in Michiana.
Visitation will take place Sunday and Monday, with funeral services on Tuesday.
That will take place at Bubb Funeral Chapel in Mishawaka.