Star Staff Report
People around the Santa Ynez Valley and Santa Barbara County can feel the rumbling of the ground and shaking of windows or see the rockets blasting off from Vandenberg Air Force Base, which is a special event in of itself. This Wednesday’s rocket launch will be all that more special as it is a tribute to fallen firefighter Ryan Osler of Ventura County Fire Department.
Osler, 38, died Sept. 21 when the water tender he was riding in tipped over while making its way to the Canyon Fire on Highway 246 at Purisima Road east of Lompoc.
“We were invited to Vandenberg for a private tour of the launching pad and the rocket that will be launched on March 1 memorializing my husband. I was immediately moved to tears when I saw Vandenberg firefighters lined up awaiting our arrival. Again, tears came quickly when I saw my husband’s name placed on the larger than life rocket,” wrote his wife Jennifer Osler on her social media account.
Team Vandenberg is scheduled to launch a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying a National Reconnaissance Office payload from Space Launch Complex-3 on Wednesday, March 1, with a launch window opening at 9:49 a.m.
“These launches require constant communication with a widespread team, especially with the unique challenges we faced during this mission,” said Lt. Col. Eric Zarybnisky, 4th Space Launch Squadron commander and Air Force Launch Director for this mission. “With the wildfires and recent rains, the Air Force team worked closely with the United Launch Alliance to ensure a successful and safe launch.”
The Osler family was invited by United Launch Alliance (ULA) which is a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and the Boeing Company for provide cost efficient access to space for U.S. government missions, according their website.
Photos of the launch pad tour were taken by Nikkole Haddock, wife of a Vandenberg Firefighter, and quickly went viral on Facebook as the event was extremely touching, and photos of the launch pad are rare to see.
“It was such a special event and as a firefighter wife we are family, even though we had never met before. I feel really blessed I got to be apart of this special event,” Haddock said.
The Osler family was given a patch by ULA which each word, line, and design is symbolic. And the single star in the sky is representative of Osler.
“We were told that he is the first to be memorialized who wasn’t a member of their industry,” his wife wrote.
“Words can’t capture the overwhelming emotion in my heart. To know that my husband has been honored, loved, and respected by so many who never met him but see him as hero, the same as we do, is indescribable,” she added.