With his unmatched sense of humor and unwavering loyalty, Ryan Harrison Boles brought joy to everyone he met, from America to across the sea.
Born into a military family, Ryan was used to moving around. Ryan’s father, David Boles, Class of 1993, said no matter where the family traveled on assignment, Ryan never lacked friends.
“His collection of friends are from around the world, not just down the street or in the neighborhood,” David said. “The friends that he met back in North Dakota in 2010, he’s still keeping in touch with them. That may not seem like a big deal to someone if they live in the same town they lived in in 2010, but he’s moved from North Dakota to Louisiana, to Italy, to California, to Texas. So that’s four moves after that location, and he’s still in touch with them.”
Following in the footsteps of his father and older brother, Ryan came to Texas A&M and joined the Corps of Cadets, where he participated in the Fish Drill Team and was a freshman in Squadron 8.
“I never really asked, ‘What’s your favorite thing?’ I wish I had,” David said. “I think he probably enjoyed some of the traditions that went on there and probably saw how much both his brother and I love A&M. I think the draw of the Corps, Fish Drill Team and just being a part of the Aggie family really is probably the main stuff. Realistically, going to school and working on the degree was all stuff you did so you could be a part of all the other things.”
Throughout his family’s travels, Ryan stayed active in Boy Scouts, obtaining Eagle Scout rank by his sophomore year of high school.
“I just keep remembering the way he would help the younger scouts along,” David said. “Much like the way the Corps works, as he would do if he were a sophomore or junior in the Corps helping that next generation.”
Ryan’s confidence in the outdoors led him to attend various camps and spend time wandering his grandparents’ ranch with ease. The woods were Ryan’s home, David said.
“Living in military housing, a lot of these houses look the same,” David said. “He was going to go off to summer camp once, and his mom was so worried that he would get lost going from point A to point B. He would get lost in the neighborhood because the houses look the same. I tried to explain to her that, ‘No, the houses look the same, but he will be able to tell the trees apart.’”
For David, the trait that drew others to Ryan and made him close with his fish buddies was his unique humor and spur-of-the-moment quips.
“He might not have much to say on something, but when he did, he’d throw out just some quote that might just be the funniest thing you could think of,” David said. “It’s amazing how many times I wrote those down, and now I cannot find a single one of them. I would always say, ‘I’m writing that down. That’s just a funny quote.’”
Family always remained a consistent staple in Ryan’s life, whether he was taking walks with his grandparents, helping out around the house or creating memories with his mother, Tricia Boles.
“My favorite [memory] is making candy cane Christmas cookies with him,” Tricia said. “He was the only one of my kids who, as he got to be a teenager, still enjoyed helping me roll them out into the shape of the candy cane. He loved those.”
Ryan was passionately loyal to his friends as well as his family, consistently participating in virtual flying games with friends from around the country and the world. These friends, some who had only known Ryan by his screen name, organized a special memorial online in his honor.
“I got an email from one of them letting us know that his buddies from online ... basically put together a 21 gun salute and then a military fly-by online, recorded it all on YouTube and shared it out there for us as their way of paying tribute to him,” David said. “Some of these people are people he knew from previous Air Force assignments and some are folks he met online, but these are people who are saying, ‘Ryan was my best friend. Ryan is the most cheerful person I know.’”
David said he hopes Ryan will be remembered as a loyal, hard-working, passionate and fair person with a heart for everyone around him.
“[He’ll be remembered by] just how he loved his family, how he loved his friends and how he was able to use that quirky sense of humor to brighten up somebody’s day,” David said. “When he was getting the award for Eagle Scout he had to provide a statement of life purpose. He basically talked about finding a career where he could help other people. That’s changed over time, what he thought that career might be, but each time I’ve seen that change a little bit, getting closer and closer to what he would really do, [and] it all came down to serving other people.”
Campus counseling services and resources are available at caps.tamu.edu, and students are encouraged to call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255 if they are experiencing distress.