A bridge in the town of Westminster, Mass. will be named in memory of 1st Lt. Ryan Patrick Jones, a 2005 Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) graduate killed in action on May 2, 2007, in Iraq. The WPI community is invited to attend a ceremony on Monday, Sept. 13, at 3:30 p.m. to unveil the permanent marker on the bridge to honor Jones for his life and service. The ceremony will be held at Westminster Town Hall, 11 South St. Lt. Gov. Tim Murray and state Veterans' Services Secretary Tom Kelley are expected to attend.
The bridge is located on the Mohawk Trail along Route 2 in Westminster, where Jones grew up and was a beloved member of the community. Former teachers and coaches have recalled that from his time as co-captain of the Montachusett Regional Technical High School football team to his graduation with honors from WPI and his role as Platoon leader in the Army, Lt. Jones demonstrated true leadership abilities and set an example for all of the lives he touched.
At WPI, Jones distinguished himself as a student and community member. A member of Phi Kappa Theta fraternity, he received the Class of 1879 Prize for excellence in his Humanities and Arts project, "Ministry: A Screenplay." For his Major Qualifying Project (MQP), "Use of Non-Destructive Testing and Evaluation for Structural Design of Pavements," Jones and his classmates evaluated the pavement at Moore Army Airfield and designed new pavement suitable for aircraft use. He earned a bachelor of science degree in civil and environmental engineering.
As a freshman at WPI, Jones joined the Army ROTC program on an Army Scholarship. He played a leadership role in many ROTC activities and events, including the Color Guard, Ranger Challenge, and Pershing Rifles. Following graduation, he continued to serve ROTC as a Gold Bar recruiter before reporting in August 2005 to his Engineer Officer Basic Course in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.
Jones was assigned to the 4th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, from Fort Riley, Kansas. He died on Tuesday, May 2, 2007, in Baghdad of wounds he suffered when his vehicle struck a roadside bomb. He was 23.
"In 2007, Massachusetts tragically lost a son and heroic soldier," said Lt. Gov. Timothy P. Murray, who, on July 22, signed the act naming the bridge. "First Lt. Ryan Patrick Jones gave his life while defending our beliefs and ideals so we can continue to live in a greater and safer nation. On behalf of Governor Patrick, I am honored to sign this bill, recognizing Ryan Patrick Jones' bravery and long-lasting memory in Westminster and the Commonwealth."
Born on Sept. 13, 1983, Lt. Jones was the only child of Kevin and Elaine Jones. At Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School, he was co-captain of the football team, a member of the school's National Honor Society chapter, and a Fitchburg Rotary Club student of the month. In his senior year, Lt. Jones received the Monty Tech Purple and Gold Award for being the school's most positive role model.