Although he lost his life while saving the lives of other Marines, William & Mary alumnus and 1st Lt. Donald “Ryan” McGlothlin’s legacy lives on.
The Marine Corps dedicated a building bearing McGlothlin’s name in Quantico, Va., on May 17. The building will house students at The Basic School, which trains newly appointed Marine Corps officers. McGlothlin himself was a graduate of The Basic School, finishing his work there in July 2004 with the highest overall scores in his class.
The dedication ceremony, which was attended by William & Mary President Taylor Reveley, included remarks by Col. Robert G. Oltman, McGlothlin’s former commander, along with family and friends, including two classmates from William & Mary. McGlothlin Hall is a handsome dormitory, with 124 student rooms, four discussion rooms and a large conference room. A hand-carved stone marker in front of the building memorializes McGlothlin.
“This gallant Marine officer demonstrated inspiring leadership and boundless courage in service to his country and Corps,” the marker says.
McGlothlin graduated from William & Mary in 2001 with honors in chemistry and as a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He was one of the most able chemistry students ever to attend the College and went on to pursue a Ph.D. in chemistry at Stanford University. His graduate work was interupted when, inspired by the events of Sept. 11, 2001, he joined the Marine Corps. After finishing his master’s degree, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in December 2003.
After being stationed with the 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, McGlothlin was deployed to Iraq in July 2005 with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
McGlothlin served as a Rifle Platoon Commander during Operation Steel Curtain. During an attack on the platoon in November 2005, He helped to shield the recovery of a unit that had sustained extensive casualties. During that engagement, he was killed. His actions earned him a Silver Star.
According to the Silver Star citation, “By his bold leadership, selfless act of bravery, and complete dedication to duty, Second Lieutenant McGlothlin reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.”
McGlothlin was buried in his hometown of Lebanon. Va. In 2009, the town had a bronze bust sculpted in his honor. The bust is now located at the Southwest Virginia Technology Development Center in Lebanon.