(US Army Corps of Engineers) Jim Ruyak, in foreground, is helping build five schools, three primary health care centers, an electrical transmission line and substation, and a water distribution network.
Retired Engineer Finds Iraq Duty Satisfying Work
OCTOBER 10, 2006By Press Release, Norris JonesEven though he’s officially retired after four decades of government service, 72-year-old Jim Ruyak is at work every day serving in Iraq with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.“I’m here because the work of helping people in need is the most satisfying undertaking one can do,” Ruyak said. “When you look at the conditions these people are living, you just naturally want to help in any way you can.”Ruyak is overseeing 30 projects in western Al Anbar Province, working out of Gulf Region Division Central District’s Al Asad office. He’s helping build five schools, three primary health care centers, an electrical transmission line and substation, and a water distribution network.After arriving in May, Ruyak is heading home this month. He says he plans to return to Iraq but is looking forward to a short break. “I get a little tired after six months at this pace,” he added.Ruyak knows something about contingency deployments as he volunteered for short-term duty on a number of occasions while with the St. Paul District from 1973-2000. He helped with recovery operations in the aftermath of floods and hurricanes.Shortly after Operation Desert Storm, he went to Kuwait to help restore that nation’s infrastructure. In October 1992, he served as Resident Engineer/Contracting Officer rebuilding Ali Al Salem Airbase there.In 2004, he arrived at Gulf Region Division Central District in Baghdad where he was responsible for over 50 projects including electrical power generation plants, hospitals, sewer systems, water treatment plants, police training facilities, and Iraqi Ministry Buildings.Ruyak is widowed and is the parent of three daughters and one son (who graduated from U.S. Military Academy at West Point). Regarding his current Iraq tour and the military personnel he works with every day, Ruyak said, “I have a great sense of pride when I see our young troops doing the great job they’re doing. I wish our folks at home could see all the good stuff that goes on over here.”