Saving Private Ryan Wiki

"Every day I think about what you said to me that day on the bridge. And I've tried to live my life the best I could. I hope that was enough."
—James Francis Ryan

Private First Class James Francis Ryan is an American soldier who served for the 101st Airborne Division in Baker Company, 1st Battalion 506th PIR during World War Two. He was the youngest sibling of the Ryan family. His older brothers were Daniel Ryan, Peter Ryan and Sean Ryan and his mother was Margaret Ryan. He has a wife known as Mrs. Ryan. He serves as the titular and pivotal character of the film, Saving Private Ryan.


Background and being found by Miller

"Tell her that when you found me, I was here and I was with the only brothers that I have left, and that there's no way I was gonna desert them."
—James Francis Ryan

Served in the 101st Airborne Division, he was assigned to go under the command of Captain Jennings. Captain Jennings was later ordered to defend Ramelle from an expected German attack led by Major Hoess.

Surviving the bombings, he went out with Corporal Henderson and PFC Toyne to destroy a Halftrack the group were expecting. He destroyed the Halftrack and hid as the trio watched a group of rangers kill the Germans inside. After introducing himself, the group went back with him to Ramelle where they revealed the deaths of his brothers and the army's request that he return home. He stubbornly refused, expressing a desire to stay with his unit. Despite Private Richard Reiben revealing that they lost two men finding him, he still refused. He asked Captain Miller to pass a message to his mother stating that he is alive and with the only "brothers" he has left, his fellow soldiers. He then mourned his brothers' deaths with his friends.

Persuaded by Sergeant Horvath, Miller stayed to help Ryan and the other troopers. Ryan assisted in making sticky bombs out of his socks and helped to set up explosive traps.

Once prepared, he told Miller of a story back home of how his brother, Daniel, was going to have sex with his girlfriend Alice Jardine only for James, Peter and Sean to intervene, resulting in Daniel attacking Sean and a kerosene lantern exploding and setting the barn ablaze. James, once he'd calmed down from laughing, asked Miller to tell him a story; particularly the one about Miller's wife and trimming the rose bushes. Miller replied solemnly, "No. I save that one just for me."

The pair soon heard rumbling in the distance and quickly readied themselves with the others for battle.

The Battle Of Ramelle

During the Battle, James was the primary objective to keep safe by Miller. This meant that almost all the time Miller was no more than two feet away from him. He was not left alone apart from one occasion which almost resulted in his death. He was always under the supervision of Captain Miller. It explains why Miller told James to stay in his position and not help the defenders disabling the Tiger tank.

Shortly after, the Tiger notices Private Ryan and decides to take aim at him, but Rieben noticed and hurried to pull Ryan out of its line of fire. Miller, whom forgets everything, hurrys up to Ryan to find him struggling to get released from under Rieben. He then sees the 20mm flak shell tear off his friends.

He and Miller soon become trapped in a shell hole and ran out of ammunition so they begin to use 60 mortar rounds to take out the Germans by fusing the arming wire with a metal plate since they had no mortar to fire them with. They take out several Germans by doing so but are powerless when a tank directly invades their position, forcing them to fall back to the bridge.

They soon make it across the bridge and use some scavenged ammunition to try and draw the Germans' fire. It was futile, however, leaving them no choice but to blow the bridge. Ryan cowered behind a wall rocking and crying from a mental breakdown because of what was happening around them. However, Miller refused to give in, stumbling out in the open to retrieve the detonator only to be shot in the chest by a German soldier.

Once reinforcements arrived and drove the Germans back, Ryan sat beside Miller as the Captain died from his bullet wound. In his dying breath. Miller told Ryan to earn the sacrifices of the soldiers, passing away soon after. Ryan was then sent back home to his mother.

Later life

After the war, Ryan lived a typical family life, meeting and marrying his wife and they had several children together. Fifty-four years later, he and his family travelled to Normandy to visit the graves of the fallen soldiers. While entering the area, he marched ahead of his family, falling to his knees and broke down crying. His family surrounded and comforted him. Sometime later, Ryan stood beside Miller's grave and talked to him briefly. He then asked his wife if he was a good man and lived a good life; which she confirmed; allowing him to feel he made their sacrifice worthwhile. He then saluted Miller's grave as an American flag blew in the background.


"Why do I deserve to go? Why not any of these guys? They all fought just as hard."
—James Francis Ryan

In the midst of the life-and-death atmosphere of war, Ryan was willing to put his life on the line to help his fellow soldiers; when the option of going home is given to him, his first thought was that he was undeserving and that leaving the war would mean leaving behind his men, who deserved to go home as much as he did.[1] Though overwhelmed with grief and sorrow when he was told about the deaths of his brothers and that he was to return home, Ryan did not flinch when he was told that he was being exfiltrated; rather, he immediately objected and vowed to stand his ground alongside his men. Miller did his best to persuade Ryan that his brokenhearted mother would only suffer more, but his dedication to his company shined through.[1] Following the war, Ryan lived his life according to Miller's last words; his wife told him he was a good man.[1]



  • M1 Garand:
  • M1A1 Bazooka:
  • M2 Mortar: