A memorial service for 2008 graduate Michael Runyan, a first lieutenant who died while serving in Diyala Province in Iraq, was held on Saturday, July 31, in Geneva, Ohio. At the family's request, a Xavier Army ROTC Color Guard attended the ceremony, which was followed by a procession to the cemetery on Sunday, Aug. 1.
Runyan, 24, of Newark, Ohio, died Wednesday, July 21, in Balad, Iraq, of injuries sustained when insurgents attacked his convoy vehicle with an improvised explosive device (IED) in Muqdadiyah, Iraq, the Department of Defense announced. Runyan was assigned to the 52nd Infantry, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. He was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom as an anti-tank Stryker Platoon leader.
Runyan is the son of former Ashland County Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey Runyan and former Ashland High School teacher Renee Runyan. Jeffrey served as judge from 1998 to 2004. The Runyans moved to Newark in 2004.
Runyan earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice in 2008 while serving as an Army ROTC cadet at Xavier.
Richard R. Boyer, pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Southampton, N.Y., officiated at the service in Geneva, Ohio. A private family burial took place in Greenlawn Memory Gardens, Kingsville, Ohio, on Sunday.
Ducro Funeral Services of Ashtabula was in charge of arrangements. The full obituary can be found on the Ducro web site.
Supporters were able to witness the procession to the cemetery on Sunday morning on SR 20 from Station Avenue in Ashtabula to the entrance of the cemetery at Greenlawn. Admission to the cemetery during the burial service was limited to members within the funeral procession.
Memorial contributions may be made to the family in lieu of flowers as donations made out to "The Michael L. Runyan Memorial Fund" through the Park National Bank, 1633 West Main St., Newark, Ohio 43055. This fund will benefit distinguished members of the Xavier Army ROTC program and members of Project Odyssey in association with the Wounded Warrior Project, an outdoor rehabilitative retreat that combines adventure challenges with opportunities for peer support and group processing.
In addition, the family invites friends to post a personal memory of Michael on the Facebook memorial group titled, "In Loving Memory of Michael Louis Runyan." Cards and messages of condolence can be sent to 2077 Valentina Lane, Newark, Ohio 43055.
The University issued the following statement on Friday, July 23:
“It is with great sadness that we learned of the death of 2008 Xavier University graduate First Lieutenant Michael Runyan in Iraq. Every young man and woman who attends Xavier University contributes in no small measure to the community we create together at Xavier. The loss of any one of them wounds us all. Michael’s death also touches our hearts as he died courageously serving our country.
"We convey our deepest sorrow and most sincere condolences of the entire Xavier University community to Michael’s parents and family. We pray God’s love and blessing will comfort them through this time of sorrow.”
The Xavier ROTC web site has additional information.