In Memoriam: Rear Admiral William J. Ryan, SC, USN

June 21, 2022 | By Samuel J. Cox Rear Adm., USN (retired) Director of Naval History and Heritage Command, Curator for the Navy
It is with deep regret that I inform you of the passing of Rear Admiral William Jardine “Bill” Ryan, Supply Corps, U.S. Navy (Retired), on 13 May 2022 at age 91. Rear Admiral Ryan entered the U.S. Naval Academy in 1948 and served as a Supply Corps officer until his retirement in 1985 as Commander, Defense Fuel Support Center, Cameron Station, Alexandria. He also served as Commander, Navy Resale Systems Office, Brooklyn, New York. 
 
Bill Ryan entered the U.S. Naval Academy on 14 July 1948, assigned to 17th Company. According to the Lucky Bag, Midshipman Ryan showed brilliance in lacrosse and intramural sports with no academic difficulties, and served on the Reception Committee. The entry also included the enigmatic “although ending his air cruise with quite a bang, “Crash” shows no fear of the air and should become one of the hottest Airedales.” He graduated with a bachelor of science in naval science and was commissioned an ensign on 6 June 1952. 
 
Ensign Ryan immediately reported to the aircraft carrier USS Bon Homme Richard (CV-31) as communications watch officer and signals officer. Bon Homme Richard deployed to the Korean War combat zone as part of Task Force 77, conducting strike operations into North Korea from the Sea of Japan, for which the ship was awarded a Naval Unit Commendation. In May 1953, Ensign Ryan reported to Naval Aviation Training Course (NABTC) at Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, Florida. In November 1953, he reported to destroyer USS Halsey Powell (DD-686) as combat information center (CIC) officer and gunnery officer, deploying to the Western Pacific for operations off Korea following the armistice and for Formosa Straits Patrol. He was promoted to lieutenant (junior grade) in December 1953.
 
In October 1955, transitioning to the Supply Corps, Lieutenant (j.g.) Ryan reported to Naval Supply Corps School, Athens, Georgia, for duty under instruction. In June 1956, he reported to Air Transport Squadron THREE (VR-3) as it shifted from NAS Moffett Field, California, to McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey. He was promoted to lieutenant in July 1956. In June 1958, he was assigned briefly to Naval Air Transport Squadron SIX (VR-6) also at McGuire. In September 1958, he reported to Pascagoula as pre-commissioning crew for destroyer USS Morton (DD-948). Following commissioning in May 1959, Morton conducted work-ups in the Caribbean, transited to her new home port of San Diego, and then deployed to the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean, to include a port visit in Bombay (now Mumbai), India. 
In August 1960, Ryan was assigned to the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, Division of Naval Reactors, in Washington, DC, for supply and fiscal duties in connection with the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program. Promoted to lieutenant commander in July 1961, he was responsible for budgeting, procurement planning, and review of contractor purchasing operations in connection with procurement of reactor plant components for construction of nuclear-powered ships. 
 
In May 1965, he was assigned to Headquarters, Naval District Washington while attending George Washington University, where he earned a master’s degree in business administration in financial management. He was promoted to commander in April 1966. In June 1966, Commander Ryan was assigned to Headquarters, Naval Material Command as the head of the Planning Branch in the Policy and Planning Division. In June 1969, he was assigned as supply officer on submarine tender USS Simon Lake (AS-33), tending fleet ballistic missile submarines at Holy Loch, Scotland. In June 1970, Commander Ryan reported to the Defense Supply Agency Cameron Station, Alexandria, Virginia, as chief, Office of Management Control, Office of the Deputy Director, Contract Administration Services. He was promoted to captain in July 1971. 
 
In August 1971, Captain Ryan reported as a student to the Industrial College of the Armed Forces (ICAF) in Washington, DC, graduating in June 1972. He was then assigned to the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Installations and Logistics as director of procurement. In April 1977, he reported to Headquarters, Navy Material Command as a member of the Navy Claims Settlement Board for Business. 
 
In July 1978, Captain Ryan assumed command of the Navy Resale Systems Office in Brooklyn, New York. He was promoted to rear admiral on 1 December 1978. In June 1981, Rear Admiral Ryan assumed command of the Defense Fuel Support Center, Cameron Station, Alexandria, responsible for satisfying worldwide defense petroleum requirements. Rear Admiral Ryan retired on 1 July 1985. 
 
Rear Admiral Ryan’s awards include the Legion of Merit (three awards); Defense Meritorious Service Medal; Joint Service Commendation Medal; Navy Commendation Medal; Navy Unit Commendation; China Service Medal; National Defense Service Medal (two awards); Korean Service Medal; Korean Presidential Unit Citation; and the United Nations Service Medal. Although not reflected in the service transcript, his last four-year tour would most likely have merited a Defense Superior Service Medal. 
Following retirement from active duty, Rear Admiral Ryan taught courses at George Washington University and the University of the District of Columbia. He was the founder and principal of PR Associates, which designed and taught instructional courses for government and commercial firms. He retired a second time in 1995, devoting his time to boating and serving as a volunteer for the USO. He was involved in U.S. Naval Academy and class affairs, including serving as a trustee on the USNA Foundation and as a past president of the Class of 1952. He was a member of the New Providence Club, the New York Yacht Club, and the Epiphany Community of Annapolis. Memorial service will be held at the U.S. Naval Academy Chapel at 1100 26 July 2022.
 
Rear Admiral Ryan excelled at jobs that most of us outside the Supply Corps don’t even know exist, but without which the U.S. Navy wouldn’t function, or in Rear Admiral Ryan’s case, the entire U.S. world-wide defense establishment. If a unit needed fuel in the early 1980s, chances are he had something to do with it being made available. After graduation from the Naval Academy, he had to mature very quickly, going to war on an aircraft carrier on his first tour. It appeared he tried his hand at flying, but for whatever reason was quickly back on a destroyer. He then found his calling in the Supply Corps, serving in a variety of assignments, perhaps the most challenging being five years working for Admiral Hyman Rickover, responsible for procuring nuclear reactors. Wherever he went, he displayed great professional competence and leadership. Despite innumerable challenges, especially during the post-Vietnam doldrum years, his service nevertheless significantly ensured that the U.S. Navy was still the best-supplied naval service in the world. He continued to serve the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Naval Academy even in to retirement. He will be truly missed, but his legacy will live on. 
 
Rest in Peace, Admiral Ryan.