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Mar 12, 2012 8:10 PM by Matt Stafford

Special ops Air Force pilot, Springs native laid to rest at AFA

Capt. Ryan P. Hall, of Colorado Springs, was laid to rest Monday at the Air Force Academy. He was 30 years old.

"Ryan has come home," Capt. Hall's father, Dennis, told the congregation at the Cadet Chapel.

Capt. Hall is a 2000 graduate of Pine Creek High School. He attended college at The Citadel in South Carolina, and received his Air Force commission through their Reserve Officer Training Corp program.

Capt. Hall had most recently been assigned to the 319th Special Operations Squadron at Hurlbert Field, Florida in 2007. He had been deployed to Camp Lemmonier in Africa at the time of his death.

The Air Force pilot was killed February 18th in a crash in Djibouti, on the Horn of Africa. Capt. Hall was working in support of the war in Afghanistan and Operation Enduring Freedom. The single-engine U-28 aircraft he was flying went down as Capt. Hall and three others were returning from an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission.

Three others died in the accident; 29-year-old Captain Nicholas Whitlock from Georgia, 26-year-old Senior Airman Julian Scholten from Maryland, and 26-year-old First Lieutenant Justin Wilkens from Oregon. 1st Lt. Wilkens graduated from the Air Force Academy in 2009.

"Ryan knew the dangers of what he was doing, but he was not afraid of failure, and that made him great," Pastor Philip Erlander - the Hall's family pastor - said during the service.

"Mostly though because he trusted in his Lord," added Pastor Erlander.

Capt. Hall's family said his faith was a driving force in his life.

"As bright as the young man was, many in today's world would ask, 'Why would he devote his life to service?'" says Dennis Hall, but it's not tough for him to answer.

"The answer to that is simple; Ryan gave his life out of love," said Dennis. He said Capt. Hall loved his Lord, his family, and his country.

At Capt. Hall's graveside service, they flew a U-28 overhead; the same plane Capt. Hall flew in the military.

Also in attendance was Governor John Hickenlooper. Gov. Hickenlooper ordered all flags to be flown at half-staff Monday in honor of Capt. Hall.

Even with his son's tough work schedule while on deployment, his father says he was still able to call home once every week or two.

"Most every phone call I would tell him just how proud we were of him, I would tell him that we loved him, and I would tell him to do his duty; he did," said Dennis Hall.

In his military service, Capt. Hall flew more than 1,400 combat flight hours during more than 200 missions. He had been deployed seven times.

Capt. Hall is survived by his parents, Dennis and Kliffa; two brothers, Brandon and Damon; his grandmothers, Jean Hall and Nayda Nunn; his girlfriend, Mae; and several nieces and nephews.

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