LCPL Joseph Ryan Giese

  • Branch: Marines
  • Hometown/City: Winder, GA
  • Date of Birth: 09-17-1986
  • Date of Death: 01-07-2011
  • Conflict: Operation Enduring Freedom
  • Unit: 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Echo Company
  • Port/Base: Camp Lejeune, NC

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  • Ryan was born in Lorain, OH and moved to Lawrenceville, GA when he was 10 years old. He attended Central Gwinnett High School and was scheduled to graduate with the Class of 2005 before relocating to Las Vegas, NV and earning his high school diploma. Ryan returned to Georgia and attended Georgia Military College before deciding to join the Marine Corps. He enlisted in July 2007 and was promoted to Lance Corporal in September 2008. He deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from September 2008 to April 2009. In July 2010, he deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. His awards include the National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and the Purple Heart. Ryan was KIA by an IED while on foot patrol in Helmand Province Sangin.

    Ryan leaves behind his wife, Brittany Giese of Monroe; his mother, Connie Wascovich of Winder; his father, Larry Giese and sister Brandi Giese of Henderson, NV; his sister Alison Leopard, brother-in-law Mitch Leopard, nephew Carson Teems, niece Emery Ryan Leopard of Cartersville; his sister Jennifer Madden, brother-in-law Jeremy Madden, niece Miah Madden of Alpharetta; his grandfather, George Wascovich of Atlanta; his mother-in-law Kimberly Johnson and brothers-in-law David Johnson and Brian Allum of Monroe; and many uncles, aunts, and cousins.

    Hundreds attended the service held at First Christian Church of Atlanta – a church Giese's grandfather built. Giese's flag-covered coffin lay in front of the baptistery he stepped into as a boy. The fallen Marine's faith is now a source of hope to his family.

    "I'm comforted by the fact that I'll see him again," said his sister, Alison Leopard. "We'll just have to live with a hole in our hearts until then."

    Leopard remembered her brother as a loving man who always put his family first. She also joked about his ability to charm anyone.

    "We used to joke about who was our mom's favorite, but we all knew it was really Ryan," she said. "Ryan was everyone's favorite."

    "Ryan as a baby made me think I never wanted to have kids. He was quite a handful. Even as a teenager, there were many times I was pretty worried about how he would turn out. Now I pray my son will grow up to be the kind of man Ryan became. Rest easy my hero. We love you." Leopard concluded.

    Giese's wife, Brittany Giese, read a letter to her husband recalling the happiness of their daily routines as well as the little things Giese loved, such as their dog Jet, eating Freeze Pops, and dunking Oreos in his coffee.

    "All the things you loved became a part of me," she said. "You are my soul mate, and never could I fathom a life without you in it...I'm always yours."

    Brittany and Ryan met in a hair salon. Even though Brittany told him she didn't do military cuts, Giese insisted she cut his hair "” and she botched the cut. Giese still pursued a relationship with her.

    "I'm so glad I messed up your hair that day," Brittany said. "We had more love than most people will ever even get to experience."

    She finished by asking the audience not to "use my husband in the past tense," saying he would always be with her.

    Connie Wascovich, Giese's mother, said her son was proud of his service. He exemplified the definition of a Marine. Loyal, loving and strong. "The proudest day of his life was when he graduated from Parris Island," she said.

    "There's not a doubt that he would have given his life for anybody he was with," Wascovich said. "He was so proud of being a Marine."

    Alison Leopard, Sibling
  • You grew up to be such an amazing man and I couldn't be more proud of you!! I love you so much and miss you so much more! The pain of not having you is terrible! I was looking forward to seeing you off that bus. I was planning my flight to NC to day the news came! You are my hero and I will never forget you or ever stop talking about you!!

    Brandi Giese, Sibling