Ryan Smithson


Ryan Smithson who recently graduated from high school decided to join the army after seeing the 9/11 attacks in 2001. Ryan was from New York which made a big difference in his life. He talks to an army recruiter who recruits him as a reserve. A reserve takes someone’s place if there is an open spot. Ryan goes through many tough training phases that builds him to become a soldier. He was sent to Virginia for his training. In the first phase drill sergeants bring everyone down and tell them nothing is important or matters, the next phase Ryan is built back up, and in the last stage the sergeants bring everyone down and then back up. This took a major part in his life because he met many friends during training and training is what turned him into a soldier. Ryan was sent to Iraq to become a worker in a U.S army base that used dump trucks to haul loads for buildings. He had many dangerous experiences in Iraq. For example, he had to constantly dodge incoming mortars, he had to watch out for landmines, and he had to keep a look out for terrorists. Ryan was deployed to village in an army truck that was a part of a convoy. He was supposed to go to another base to deliver supplies. Ryan and the convoy encountered a battle but they had escaped from it. Ryan then went home after he completed his mission to see his family. A few days later he went back to finish his last stage of training. Ryan failed his last part but had a second try. After this he went with a recruiter to a high school to talk about the army. He then went back to base to talk to his best friends from his platoon, say his goodbyes and cherish their good moments. Ryan finally went home to his family where he would become a reserve.

Key Events

An important event that played in his life was the attack of 9/11 because it is what made him want to serve in the war.

His first day of training was important because it made he realize what he gave up just to go through tough training to fight for others freedom.

Another key event was meeting his new friends because it got his mind off of the fact that he gave almost everything up in his life.

Giving water to the Iraq children was very important because Ryan said that when the war is over he wants the Iraq civilians to remember the U.S army as friendly rather than deadly.

When a sergeant that was a friend of Ryan died from a landmine impacted him greatly because it made him want to never quit what he is doing and to fight even more.

When Ryan went home to see his family was important because he got to see his child and his parents who were worried about him.

Information about the book

  1. Who is the author? Ryan Smithson is the author.

  2. When is the publishing date? The book Ghosts of War was published in 2009.

  3. Who is the intended audience? The author tells his story directly to the reader.

  4. How is the text organized? Ryan Smithson did an excellent on his organization by putting his key events in his life in chronological order.

  5. Are there any biases (beliefs or opinions) the author has toward this person? How do you know? Ryan Smithson did not mention any biases about himself that he thought. However, he may have believed that he was important because on the front cover of the book he wrote he said “If I don’t do something who will.

Character traits

Ryan Smithson is very emotional because in the book he would cry when he saw Iraq children begging him for food and water. He would laugh at the jokes his friends would tell him. He would cry when he would think about his family and he would get mad when he was in a battle. Ryan Smithson is very brave because in the story he said that he had to aim guns at the children and were ordered to shoot them if they threw rocks at him. Also, being in the army alone is brave because you are giving up everything that you had to risk your life for others freedom. Finally Ryan Smithson is very kind in many ways. For example when he was on a convoy that traveled through an Iraq village he gave water and Gatorade to the thirsty Iraq children. Also, he saved a man’s life from an incoming mortar that was fired at a base that they were at.

People who influenced Ryan

  1. One person that influenced him was a drill sergeant that specifically told him to push himself and fight through it because in the end he will defend his country like he wanted to. He also told him that he is doing this for his family which made Ryan more confident.

  2. Another person is his Platoon sergeant because he influenced Ryan to not be afraid of anything and to keep praying because everything will turn out all right. He told Ryan that we have God with us and that if he does what he is supposed to and tries hard then he won’t have to worry about dying.

  3. His friends actually influenced him greatly without directly talking to him about it. What I mean is that Ryan and his friends would laugh together, have a good time when they socialized, play cards or a board game, or even just talk and hang out. This would get his mind off the fact that he just gave up his life and his family to be in the military.

How his early life effected him

The major thing that affected Ryan Smithson’s life was the attack of 9/11. He watched the whole thing happen right before his eyes. This caused him to feel extremely sad and he cried but that soon turned to anger as he realized that it was a terrorist attack. He knew that this was on purpose so he wanted to go into service because of the 9/11 attacks. He said that he wanted to fight for his country and make sure that no other terrorist attack will happen again. This reflected him greatly because it turned him from being a high school graduate to becoming an army reserve for his country.

Quote from Ryan Smithson

In the book Ryan Smithson says this quote “If I don’t do something, who will?” He is saying that if he doesn’t make a change and go to the military to serve and stop the terrorist’s attacks then who will. This proves that he is very brave for going into the service to defend his countries freedom and to defend against the terrorists.

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My opinion about the book

I thought that this was a very good book. I enjoyed the sense of humor that he added in the book. For example, Ryan was told by someone to go to the very last camper to take a shower because he needed to. Well the person who told him to go to the last one must have thought that Ryan knew that he meant the last male shower camper. Ryan didn’t know this and he accidentally took a shower and shaved in the women’s sower camper because there were very few of them. I also liked how Ryan talked about his training because it interested me. I thought that the different phase that he had was very neat. Finally I liked how Ryan got along with everyone in his platoon because some people in the army get belittled which makes them not want to be in it or give up training or in general just give up serving. He made friends with everyone in his platoon too.