Veteran Salute: From Iraqi Freedom to Commander of a Topeka CVMA

TOPEKA (KSNT) – Recently retired from Veterans Affairs, Sergeant Ryan Angle served eight years in the Army during a pivotal time of rising conflict overseas.

With influential family members in the military growing up, Angle heard the call to serve clear as day.

“My grandfather was in WWII,” Angle said, “my uncle was in the Air Force, he retired as a 1 Star, 35 years, and my Dad retired as a Captain 35 years. So I just kinda wanted to do my part.”

His part would send him overseas, as a Sgt. with the Army at the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom

“I drove Hets (Heavy Equipment Transporter System), which is the biggest truck the military has post tanks and artillery and stuff like that,” he said. “So we were recovery vehicles. We would go on convoy’s two weeks at a time. Basically you would get up at 2 3 o’clock in the morning, have a convoy briefing 3, 4, roll out as soon as sunrise. Drive 13, 14 hours a day.”

This was about 20 years ago, as Angle’s unit began the process of moving form Kuwait across the border into Iraq.

“We didn’t have up-armored vehicles like we do today, we didn’t have air conditioning like they do today. We had to cut steel, ratchet strap it to the doors for our up-armor. Had to put sandbags in our floorboards to try and cover the shrapnel from IED’s from coming up. That was pretty much all we had for protection.”

Decades later, that deployment still sticks strongly with the Sgt.

‘I don’t forget the ambushes, I don’t forget the smaller fires, pop shots, but the comradery that I had with some buddies of mine that we still talk from time to time,” Angle said. “I’ve lost a troop a couple years ago, that’s why I joined CVMA (Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association). She was my co-driver. Covid got the best of her, and she ended up committing suicide. That was kind of the wake up call, I wanted to try and give back to the community.”

Angle does so through the local CVMA where he’s been a member for three and a half years, and held the Commander position for the past year and a half.

“You know there’s other vets out there that are walking in the same shoes as me,” Angle said, “but just didn’t have the support system and the family that I have. I just want to be able to reach out to the other vets and hopefully make a difference.”

Creating a space for other veterans in the local area to feel a sense of community means a lot to the Sgt. The CVMA holds bike nights and restaurant meetups, and gives back to the area as well, raising money through golf tournaments and donating reclining chairs to a Topeka private veteran nursing home.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to KSNT 27 News.