Mount Vernon Memorial Park & Mortuary

8201 Greenback Ln, Fair Oaks, CA


Ryan Michael O'Brien

March 19, 1922November 24, 2019

First Lieutenant Ryan Michael O’Brien was born in Los Angeles, California on March 19, 1922. He graduated from Mount Carmel High School in 1941.

In February 1943, he enlisted in the Air Force. After basic training he was sent to the University of Arkansas, then on to Pre-Flight training at Ellington Field in Houston, Texas.

Ryan then attended the Pan American Celestial Navigation School at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida. He graduated from there in June 1944 and was then commissioned a Second Lieutenant. Of the 250 cadets in his class at that teaching institution, Ryan was the only one to receive 100% on the final exam covering the theory of celestial navigation.

Ryan then joined a 10 man crew at March Field in Riverside, California and began training in a B-24 in July 1944. His very first mission was on August 15th, 1944. It was the invasion of Southern France and was followed by an additional 34 air missions.

On Ryan’s 35th Mission, his tail gunner shot down the 109 that had fired the 20 MM shells into the gas tank in the wing, but incredibly, those shells did not explode. The shells were all duds intentionally minus the firing mechanism that had come from Oskar Schindler’s ammunition factory in Czechoslovakia. This is what saved their B-24 from being blown out of the sky, thereby adding Ryan’s crew; other American and Allied force crews to Schindler’s list of the 1,200 Jews that Oskar Schindler had saved from the gas chamber.

First Lieutenant Ryan Michael O’Brien was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross; 4 Air Medals; the Order of the Purple Heart; and the European African Middle Eastern Medal with 3 Battle Stars. On July 10, 2018, Ryan received the government of France’s highest civilian honor, it’s Legion of Honor Medal. His 484th Bomb Group was also awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for their part in the destruction of oil refineries in Romania.

As a civilian, Ryan has called Fair Oaks, California his home for over four decades. During that time, he founded and was the Chief Executive Officer at the Mason’s Association. He was also the lobbyist in state legislature for that organization.

Since retiring, Ryan has continued to remain very active in the community. His organizational affiliations were many and included the American Legion Post #383; VFW Post #6158; Military Order of the Purple Heart Chapter #385; American Society of the French Legion as a Chevalier (Knight); Gray Eagles; P-38; 484 Bomb Group Reunion Team ; Knights of Columbus and others.

In his retirement, Ryan also remained very active at the State Capitol as a very passionate advocate for California’s veteran communities. On March 19, 2019, Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (Granite Bay) honored Ryan’s service and sacrifice to country as well as his volunteer efforts to give back to the community once out of the Military. With family and friends present Ryan was conferred an official state assembly Resolution presented on the floor by Assemblyman Kevin Kiley.

On March 22, 2019, Senator Brian Jones (San Diego) officially “Introduced” Ryan on the floor of the state senate during session. All Senators present then honored Ryan. According to Senate President Senator Toni Atkins it was the very first time she had to call that moving session back to order.

On November 9th, 2019, Ryan received Special Congressional Honors for his lifetime of Achievements from Congressman Tom McClintock at the 9th Annual “Spirit of Veterans Day...Saluting Community Excellence” Recognition Ceremony. He was also honored again at that Ceremony by Guy Michelier, Consul Honoraire de France.

Ryan was married twice and his children from his first marriage include daughters Erin, Colleen, Patty and son Ryan Jr. Ryan Sr. passed away peacefully on November 24, 2019 at his home in Fair Oaks with his loving family present.


12 December

Visitation and Rosary

5:00 pm - 8:00 pm

St. Mel's Catholic Church

4745 Pennsylvania Avenue
Fair Oaks, CA 95628

13 December

Funeral Service

3:00 pm - 5:00 pm

St. Mel's Catholic Church

4745 Pennsylvania Avenue
Fair Oaks, CA 95628

16 December

Graveside Service

1:30 pm - 2:00 pm

Ressurection Catholic Cemetery

966 N. Potrero Grande Drive
Rosemead, CA 91770

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