- "You wanna explain the math of this to me? I mean, where's the sense of riskin' the lives of the eight of us to save one guy?"
- —Richard Reiben
Private First Class Richard Reiben was a supporting character in the film, Saving Private Ryan. He was an American soldier serving in the 2nd Rangers Battalion of the United States Army and held the rank of Private. He was from Brooklyn, New York City, as shown written proudly on the back of his jacket. While in service, he smoked cigars instead of the standard cigarettes usually given to infantrymen.
War at Home
On the day that Richard Reiben was to leave for Basic Training, he had a memorable encounter with Mrs. Rachel Troubowitz, the wife of his building's superintendent, in which he was admiring her rather large breasts, and upon her noticing, told him to think of her breasts if he were to ever find himself frightened while fighting in the war.
Joining the Army and D-day invasion
Reiben would go on to volunteer for the Army Rangers and was with Charlie Company of the 2nd Ranger Battalion on June 6th, 1944. He almost drowned after his BAR pulled him down, forcing him to discard the weapon. Reiben survived the costly assault on Omaha Beach after finding another gun and assisting in taking the bunkers.
Searching For Ryan
He was later hand-picked by Captain John H. Miller along with Medic Wade, Private Mellish, Private Caparzo, Private Jackson, Sergeant Horvath and Corporal Upham to participate in a mission to find and return Private James Ryan, a paratrooper whose three brothers had been killed in combat.
Reiben was the first member of the squad to question the logic of their orders, and was the most vocal in expressing his displeasure at the risky mission. He mused about such at the squad hiked to Neuville and also questioned why they had to gripe to Miller but he didn't have to do likewise for them.
Once they reached the town, Reiben and the others rendezvoused with the 101st squadron there only to be informed by Sergeant Hill that Ryan wasn't with them. He then crossed with the others through the town until they were pinned down by a sniper. Although Jackson managed to kill the man, Caparzo was killed, leaving Reiben angered as he looked at his friend's corpse.
He was later present when a small group of Germans ambushed them but they were soon gunned down by Captain Hamill and his squad, who informed them they had found a Private Ryan. However, it turned out he was the wrong one, leaving the men stumped with where to look. Going on a lead they learned from an injured trooper, they planned to venture to the rally point Ryan should supposedly be at.
Reiben then took refuge in a church, briefly musing how Jackson could sleep so easily then discussed how his mother never let him sleep when she wanted to talk to him. He then solemnly listened to Wade confess he regretted not talking to his mother before going to sleep.
The crisis at the radio site
During the attack their medic Wade was mortally wounded. Instead of helping his friend, he proceed to let out frustration by heavily beating the Germam who shot the medic; only stopping when ordered to by Miller. The death of Private Caparzo in Neuville, and the death of Medic Wade during an attack on a machine gun nest, caused Reiben to finally lose his cool, and was only exacerbated when Miller released a German prisoner out of hope that he would be picked up by Allied forces. An angry Reiben, yelling at Miller, was confronted by Sergeant Horvath, who drew his sidearm and threatened to shoot Reiben if he did not comply with Miller's orders. Watching the events calmly, Miller diffused the situation by revealing that he was a schoolteacher, a revelation that took the squad by surprise. After finally revealing some of his personal life to his men, Miller told Reiben that he would sign the necessary papers to transfer him to another unit. Seeing the human side of Miller, Reiben rejoined the squad and helped his comrades bury Wade.
Finding Ryan and the Battle of Ramelle
Once Private Ryan was finally found in the village of Ramelle on June 13th, he refused to go with them to which led Reiben to shout at him "Hey asshole! Two of our guys already died trying to find you!" Depsite trying this Ryan still objected to stay. Miller and his squad decided to help Ryan and the other paratroopers defend the village against an expected German attack. Reiben saved Ryan's life by getting him out of the way of a tank aiming at him. Rangers and paratroopers fought side by side in the streets of Ramelle, and everyone in Miller's squad, with the exception of Reiben and Corporal Upham, were killed in action. Searching Miller's body, Reiben retrieved a letter that Caparzo had written to his father, a letter that had been passed from one dead soldier to another, and finally to Reiben.
He showed great sympathy and sadness at Miller's death, unable to keep looking at his corpse and having to turn away.