Caring and insightful
Rystad's death may be the first of a soldier from the northwest Minnesota city of Red Lake Falls since the Vietnam War, said Cheryl Matzke, who had Rystad in her English classes.
"In a community this size, it's as though we've all lost a son," she said. She recalled him as a "high B" student and solid performer on the hockey, football and baseball teams.
Rystad joined the military immediately after graduating from Lafayette High School in Red Lake Falls in 2004. His father, James, was a deputy sheriff, and his mother, Donna, a registered nurse.
His brother, Brian, 18, said that in recent e-mails, Corey wanted news of the family deer hunt and the University of North Dakota hockey team, whose games Brian Rystad would burn onto DVDs for his brother to watch in Iraq. Corey always downplayed the danger he faced, Brian said. "He was always talking positive," he said. "We were making plans to go to college together when he got out, in Detroit Lakes. He wanted to go for radiology."
Matzke added that while many in the small town are grieving, "This is not a time for reflection on whether the war is right or wrong. The point is that he was serving and was proud to serve. Corey was doing [the job] for us."
Minnesota war toll now 47
Funeral arrangements for both men are pending.
The deaths raised to 47 the number of people with strong Minnesota ties who have died in connection with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"We mourn the loss of these two soldiers; they were truly part of our National Guard family," said Maj. Gen. Larry Shellito, the adjutant general of Minnesota. "We will never forget their dedication, loyalty and bravery."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.