Parents finish Eagle Scout project for son killed in Afghanistan

When his friend was fatally struck by a car while biking in their Minnesota town, Ryane Clark was forever changed.

A few years later, Ryane, then a 15-year-old Boy Scout, was picking an idea for his Eagle Scout service project. He knew just the thing: He would build a parking lot in New London, Minn., where people could unload their bikes away from the busy County Road 31 where his friend died.

He wanted to make sure the tragedy that had taken the life of his friend wouldn’t happen to anyone else.

“It was Ryane’s dream, his vision,” his mom, Tracy, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “He was all about doing community projects.”

Sadly, Ryane’s passion was no match for “a bureaucratic maze no one seems able to explain,” as the Star Tribune puts it. 

Nobody at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources objected to the idea in theory. They just put in place too many hurdles for a 15-year-old to overcome.

Ryane moved on. He settled on a project at the Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center and earned his Eagle Scout award.

This was 2003. Ryane never forgot about the project, but he did move on. In 2008, he enlisted in the U.S. Army. In 2009, he was deployed to Afghanistan.

On Oct. 4, 2010, Spc. Ryane G. Clark died when insurgents attacked his unit in Shekhabad, Afghanistan. He was 22.

The tragic death added urgency to the plan for the parking lot. His parents, Tracy and Rick, wanted it to serve as a memorial to their son and to his childhood friend.

Finally, they had a breakthrough last year. Twelve years after Ryane started his project, his parents were going to finish it.

With the help of State Rep. Mary Sawatzky, the Clarks got funding to pave the parking lot. Volunteers added flag poles to the property. Ryane’s parents plan to add a memorial stone with their son’s face on it.

Spc. Ryane Glenn Clark Memorial Park will be dedicated Sept. 27.