A Publication of WTVP

40 Leaders Under Forty

Ryne E. Meardy | 39

Senior master sergeant, United States Air Force;
Facilities engineer, Caterpillar

Ryne E. Meardy
Ryne E. Meardy

As senior master sergeant with the United States Air Force for 23 years, Ryne Meardy has been responsible for the 182nd Communications Flight squadron’s health, morale and other personnel issues, with multiple deployments in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. He assists the commander in providing a mission-ready force, as well as advising and assisting in maintaining unit discipline and military standards, strategic planning and day-to-day operations. An extensively decorated soldier, he was named the Air National Guard’s Outstanding First Sergeant for the entire state of Illinois in 2019.   

At Caterpillar, he leads major facilities projects at the company’s Mapleton foundry, where in very short order he has achieved significant cost savings and impressed with his leadership abilities. 

Prior to that, Ryne was director of maintenance and operations at Washington Community High School District 308, where he managed a $1.1 million budget and more than $8 million in projects. Before that, he was facility operations manager at Illinois Central College, leading $33 million in new construction projects and overseeing a staff of 42. 

Meanwhile, he has been a longstanding coach and significant fundraiser for Limestone Youth Baseball, generating some $80,000.

“Ryne is the type of leader people follow into a burning building. He commands respect, without saying a word,” said his nominator. “It’s hard to count the number of people he’s mentored or coached through the years (formally and informally), but there seems to always be a circle of young men and women about to go to boot camp sitting around him … hanging on every word.” 

Childhood ambition: “I always wanted to be a fighter pilot in the United States Air Force.”

Hobbies: “I love to be outdoors. I specifically love to play sports … baseball and football. I’m a huge Cubs fan and University of Michigan football fan. I also enjoy fishing with my family and friends.”

Bucket list number one: “I would love to travel more as I get older. My bucket list location would be Australia.”

Best advice: “Everything my subordinates do right is their fault. Everything that they do wrong is my fault. It’s my fault because I either failed to train them, failed to resource them, or failed to clearly define the objectives.”

Major social issue: “Failure to adequately support our nation’s veterans.”

Favorite cause: “Wounded Warrior Project.”