Liberty post office renamed in honor of fallen soldier

LIBERTY — The United States Post Office here was renamed in honor of Staff Sgt. Ryan Scott Ostrom during a special ceremony held at the Liberty Municipal Building yesterday.

A plaque was dedicated and will be hung outside the post office building, at 4514 Williamson Trail.

The members of the Ostrom family were on hand, as was an audience filled with members of the military, scouts, their families and town residents. While nearly 80 people were seated, another crowd of about 80 people stood.

Ryan Ostrom was born in 1979 and raised in Liberty. He enlisted in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard in 1997 and served in the 1st Battalion, 109th Infantry Regiment and did two tours — one in Bosnia and a second in Iraq. He was killed on Aug. 9, 2005 from injuries sustained from enemy small-arms fire in Iraq, according to the Military Times.

During his military service, he received multiple awards and, upon his death, was awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge from the Department of the Army and the Pennsylvania Meritorious Service Medal, according to his obituary. A scholarship fund also was set up in his name.

“We have passed a piece of legislation in the House and in the Senate, signed into law by the President, to name this facility after Staff Sgt. Ryan Scott Ostrom,” said U.S. Rep. Tom Marino, R-Cogan Station.

The piece of legislation was introduced by Marino in April of 2017 and passed into law on March 30.

Marino presented a folder with several letters of support, press releases and other information about the history of the legislation to Scott Ostrom, Ryan Ostrom’s father, Donna Ostrom, his mother, and Anice Ostrom, and step-mother.

Deborah Gless, the Central Pennsylvania district manager for the United States Postal Service, said that to rename the facility is a “special tribute” and “literally takes an act of Congress and the signature of the President of the United States to make happen.” She went to credit U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Zionsville, for pushing the legislation to rename the post office through the Senate.

“How fitting that the post office named Liberty would bare the name of the individual who gave his life for our benefit,” Gless said.

Major Gen. Anthony Carrelli, Adjutant General of the Pennsylvania National Guard, said Ryan Ostrom was “an absolute American hero (and) a young man who was absolutely committed to serving his commonwealth and his country. There’s a great many people who observe history throughout their lives,” Carrelli said. “Ryan was not just satisfied standing by watching history. Ryan took an active role in history. He was a history maker.”

He went on to say that not only was Ryan Ostrom owed a great debt, but the entire Ostrom family.

Scott Ostrom shared memories of his son and how he coached local sports and the impact he had on the children in Liberty.

Scott Ostrom shared that his son also was dedicated to his fellow soldiers.

“(After he returned from his first deployment) I said, ‘Son, you don’t need to go on this second deployment,’ “ he recalled. “(Ryan) said, ‘Dad, my platoon needs me and I’m going.’ “

The ceremony ended with the unveiling of the plaque followed by a gathering at the Liberty VFW Post 6755 building on Beutertown Road.

After the ceremony, Marino said he was on his way to Andrews Air Force Base and off to a NATO conference with a delegation.

When asked if the ceremony for Ryan Ostrom gave him a different perspective on his next task, Marino said it did.

Scott Ostrom said every anniversary of his son’s death can be challenging, “but today was a great honor to the Ostrom family.”

Further down the street, outside the Citizens & Northern Bank, on the corner of Williamson Trail and Blockhouse Road, a memorial had been built and dedicated to Ryan Ostrom years earlier. Three members of his former platoon said this was a nice family event.

Retired 1st Sgt. Larue Stelene, of Williamsport, said he served with Ryan Ostrom’s father when he was in their platoon.

“(Scott Ostrom) was a mentor of mine “said retired 1st Sgt. James Shedden, who served as Ryan Ostrom’s commanding officer.

Stelene said Ostrom’s step-mother, Anice Ostrom, still runs the platoon’s family support group.

“His entire family has been supportive of the military their entire lives,” said Stelene. “And that’s exactly how Ryan was.”

Shedden knew Ryan Ostrom wanted to re-enlist for his second deployment, as did many of the men in their group. “We didn’t want to let each other down,” Shedden said.

“Ryan was what every soldier should be,” Stelene said. “Ryan was just a nice guy that wanted to do the right thing.”

Lt. Col. Lou Gansell, who is the company commander, praised the town of Liberty for their dedication to the Ostrom family.

“Today’s ceremony was a great event. It just shows the character of the small town community,” Gansell said.