The Barn Raising at Ryan Field (2MT1) started out as a kind of fantastical idea…maybe instead of a simple metal shed to store the airfield’s mower and tools, we should think of something a little bigger, something people could gather in.
The idea of building a multi-purpose Amish post and beam barn was suggested, and as luck would have it, there was an Amish barn builder located in Townsend, Montana, who said he would be happy to put together a few ideas for us.
One thing led to another, and the next thing you know, we were floating this idea past a few supporters. They cheered for the idea and sent funds. It seemed like everyone we reached out to cherished the idea of Ryan Field having a barn with flush toilets, hot showers and a big space to gather.
Next came the idea that we could, no – should, make the Barn a tribute to Ben Ryan and the sacrifices he and his wife Butchie made for the country. Ben flew a P-38 in the Pacific during WWII, and Butchie served as a nurse with the Army Nurse Corps. Pete Smith of Lewistown, Montana, offered to cut steel silhouettes of the P-38 that could be embedded in the cement floor. Someone else suggested a “missing man formation” of P-38’s. Done.
The support for the barn came not only in the form of financial contributions. RAF volunteers from all over the country offered to come and do the work of finishing the barn. By the end of October, more than 50 volunteers had swung hammers and driven screws to make the barn a reality.
Ron Normandeau, RAF’s very first State Liaison, said he hadn’t worked so hard since he was a smoke jumper, but also had more fun than he’d had in a long time. That sentiment was repeated over and over.
So many gave—but not everyone was able to participate in person—so we made a video to help give a sense of why this barn means so much, and is a shining example of what makes the RAF different.
We hope you like the new Ryan Barn in West Glacier, Montana.