American Veteran 04

Richard Ryer

March 13, 1940 ~ November 10, 2021 (age 81)


On November 10, 2021, Colonel Richard T. Ryer of Fort Walton Beach, Florida passed away at the age of 81.  He was born an only child to Vince and Helen Ryer of Valley Stream, New York on March 13, 1940.  He attended local schools and was a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.  He received an M.A. in National Security Affairs and Middle East Studies from the Naval Post Graduate School in Monterrey. He studied Vietnamese, Arabic, Spanish, and Tagalog at the Defense Language Institute and the Foreign Service Institute. He was a command pilot with over 5,000 flying hours.

Colonel Ryer began his Air Force career as an Intelligence Officer, specialized training which served him well in the subsequent military and civilian security assignments. This training led to a posting with the USAF Office of Special Investigations (OSI) as a Special Agent with the OSI Detachment in DaNang, Vietnam.  Here he worked under Dennis Crowley, Jr. with whom he would develop a close friendship that would lead to the co-founding of Apollo Security almost 25 years later. Colonel Ryer subsequently succeeded Dennis as the Special Agent-in-Charge of the DaNang detachment.

Upon his return from Vietnam, Colonel Ryer completed flight and fighter aircraft training — part of which was completed here at Hurlburt Field under the tutelage of several officers who would become USAF legends, including Major General Richard Secord.  Colonel Ryer subsequently returned to Vietnam for a second tour of duty, where he flew as a combat pilot with the 603rd Special Operations Squadron at Bien Hoa Air Base, flying 333 combat missions in the A-37 Dragonfly. In acknowledgment of these exploits, he was awarded several medals and commendations, including three Distinguished Flying Crosses for heroism in combat flight operations.

From 1974 to 1977, Colonel Ryer served as an Air Officer Commanding at the U.S. Air Force Academy where he helped prepare the way for the first female cadets. Following this tour, he was selected for post-graduate studies in Monterrey where he studied Arabic and obtained a Master’s degree in Middle Eastern Affairs to prepare for next appointment as the Air Attaché to Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

After two years in the Kingdom, Colonel Ryer reported to the Headquarters, United States European Command, in Stuttgart, Germany, as a security assistance and training staff officer. From 1982 until 1985, he was the Chief of the Office of Defense Cooperation in Montevideo, Uruguay.

Following this assignment, Colonel Ryer was named as the U.S. Defense and Air Attaché to the Philippines and served in this position until 1989, earning the prestigious Defense Superior Service Medal in the process.  Awarded by then-Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci, the citation commended Colonel Ryer for leading his team, in a dangerous and hostile environment, on a series of often perilous missions during an attempted coup attempt. Their endeavors were described as an example of how high-quality, professional activities should be carried out — lessons that would serve Colonel Ryer well in the corporate world.

Colonel Ryer retired from the United States Air Force following 27 years of active duty.  As a civilian, Colonel Ryer traveled extensively outside the United States, first for various government agencies interested in his Special Forces knowledge and skills and, later, as a private consultant before joining Apollo Security as a partner with his close friend from his OSI days, Dennis Crowley, Jr.

During the next 25 years, Colonel Ryer would work tirelessly to help his company expand from a domestic guard services company to one with wide-ranging global responsibilities and outreach, changing the company’s name to Apollo Security International, reflective of its new global profile. In particular, these offerings included the development, for the first time in the U.S. security industry, of an all-encompassing, international security package which, in effect, offered participating companies with opportunities to trade in their existing, expensive corporate security operations for cost-effective, home-grown Apollo surrogates. 

In turn, these Apollo operatives offered their proven skills and local knowledge to their clients to handle anything from routine plant visits by corporate executives to far more complex and dangerous operations involving labor disputes, workplace violence, or possible evacuation scenarios where their access to local political and law enforcement individuals often proved invaluable.  The underlying premise of this package proved popular with a wide range of companies, from Fortune 200 behemoths to smaller, ‘new to market’ investors/traders. Following the sale of Apollo in 2016, Colonel Ryer started a new international security firm called SocoSIX Strategies.

The Ryers wish to thank all of those from Emerald Coast Hospice, and Aileen, of Ace Senior Care, who organized the equipment and specialized transportation, and her aides Lee, Mica and Donna whose skill and good humor kept Dick entertained and comfortable.

Colonel Ryer is survived by his wife of more than 40 years, Linda; daughter, Perri; his cousins Tim and Camella Neville of New York City, and his dear friends Mark and Patricia Hambley.

Upon specific instructions, funeral and memorial arrangements will be private.  In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the following charitable organizations:

Air Commando Foundation, or mail to:

Air Commando Foundation
P.O. Box 7
Mary Esther, FL 32569

Shriners Children’s Hospital, or mail to:

Shriners Hospitals for Children

Attn: Processing Center

PO Box 947765

Atlanta, GA 30394

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