FROM CBD NEWS SOURCE
TULSA, Okla.-The Oral Roberts athletics department is mourning the loss of former baseball player Ryan Iannelli, who died Wednesday in a helicopter crash during combat operations in Afghanistan. Iannelli was serving his country as a pilot in the Marines.
Iannelli graduated from ORU in 2006 and was a member of the Golden Eagle baseball team that advanced to face Clemson in the NCAA Super Regional. Originally from Clarksboro, N.J., Iannelli was a four-year member of the team, seeing time in the outfield and as a pinch runner.
“He was one of a kind,” said ORU Head Coach Rob Walton, “Ryan will be sorely missed. He was one of us, and he was a big part of my life. He was making a difference, and he believed in the difference he was making. Our Thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
Walton, who was also a native of New Jersey, was close to Iannelli and kept in contact with him after he graduated.
“Ryan was a great kid from a town not far from where I grew up. He was a high energy person, very smart, and a really good teammate,” said Walton. “I remember one time I was having health problems and had to leave practice, I was in the hospital and he came by with a slice of pizza from our favorite New Jersey pizza place. That’s the kind of guy he was, always thinking of other people. He had a big heart, strong will; this one hurts.”
The 27 year old was assigned to Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 269, Marine Air Group 29, 2nd Marine Air Wing, II Marine Expeditionary Force, and was involved in combat operations at the time of his death, according to an article written by Amy Ellis Nutt in the N.J. Star-Ledger.