Casey Ryback

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Casey Ryback
Under Siege character
First appearance Under Siege
Portrayed by Steven Seagal
Gender Male
Occupation Former U.S. Navy SEAL turned Cook
Nationality American

Casey Ryback is a fictional character and action hero from the Under Siege films of the 1990s. Played by Hollywood action star Steven Seagal,[1] Ryback is a Chief Petty Officer and former Navy SEAL operator turned chef[2] with top training in martial arts, explosives, special-weapons and tactics. He is a master of unarmed combat, highly skilled with firearms, knives and other forms of combat which enables him to defeat mercenaries/terrorists with ease. He appears in the 1992 film Under Siege and its sequel, Under Siege 2: Dark Territory, in 1995.[3]


CPO (SEAL) Casey Ryback, USN (Ret.), was a decorated leader of SEAL Team Four until losing security clearance, demoted to chef aboard USS Missouri. He struck his CO (Commanding Officer) after his SEAL teammates were killed because of poor intelligence during the invasion of Panama, Operation Nifty Package, in which they were sent to disable General Manuel Noriega's private jet at Punta Paitilla Airport.

At the end of the first film, his former position was given back to him in a ceremony following his bravery. At the beginning of the sequel, Ryback had retired from the Navy as a Chief Petty Officer, shown by the salute and verbal greeting from his driver in the beginning of the film. He worked as a chef at the Mile High Cafe in Denver, Colorado.

At the end of the second film, when Ryback visits his brother's grave, he wears Navy Dress Whites with the shoulder boards of a Navy Lieutenant (O-3). This means he was awarded a direct commission after the events of the first film. In the original poster art of the first film, he wears shoulder boards of a flag officer. Not enough is shown to see one-star, two-star, or admiral. In the first film, he has the role of Chief.

As a SEAL, Ryback was awarded various U.S. military honors. His niece Sarah lists them as the Navy Cross, Silver Star and Purple Heart with clusters.

In the first film, the mercenaries on the USS Missouri do not know who Ryback is, believing he was just a mere cook. This added an element of surprise to the onslaught which followed. However, in the sequel, Under Siege 2, in which Ryback boards a train with his niece Sarah (Katherine Heigl) to visit a recently deceased brother James (Sarah's father) in Los Angeles from Denver, the mercenaries who hijack the train have full knowledge of the man they are dealing with once they hear his name.

Influence and reception[edit]

Casey Ryback became one of well known names of action heroes in the action film genre in the 1990s compared to the likes of John McClane from the Die Hard films. As David West writes, Under Siege is "cut from the same cloth as the 'Die Hard' series and stars Seagal as Casey Ryback..."[4] The character of Ryback has been criticized in the media due the fact that he is invincible and would defeat his opponents rather too easily, removing the element of surprise in his personal combat. As Eric Lichtenfeld writes, " the ultimate warrior. As the action genre tends toward hyperbole, Ryback is an amalgam of everything that signifies Ultimate Warrior status, even more than Riggs had been in Lethal Weapon. It is fitting then, that...Ryback's costuming progresses from a white cook's an olive tank top, to the all-black garb that merges Ryback with the ship, and with which Seagal came to be identified.[5]

Awards and decorations[edit]

Personal decorations
Gold star
Navy Cross with one gold award star
Gold star
Silver Star with one gold award star
Navy and Marine Corps Medal
Gold star
Gold star
Bronze Star Medal with two gold award stars and V Device
Gold star
Gold star
Gold star
Purple Heart with three gold award stars
Gold star
Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with gold award star and V Device
Combat Action Ribbon
Unit awards
Navy Presidential Unit Citation
Bronze star
Navy Unit Commendation with bronze service star
Meritorious Unit Commendation
Campaign and service medals
Bronze star
National Defense Service Medal with bronze service star
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Vietnam Service Medal with three bronze service stars
Bronze star
Southwest Asia Service Medal with bronze service star
Service and training awards
Silver star
Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon with one silver service star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Navy and Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon with three bronze service stars
Foreign awards
Vietnam Presidential Unit Citation
Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation
Vietnam Campaign Medal
Marksmanship awards
USN Expert Rifle Ribbon.png Navy Expert Rifleman Medal
USN Expert Pistol Shot Ribbon.png Navy Expert Pistol Shot Medal
Other accoutrements
US Navy SEALs insignia.png Special Warfare insignia
United States Navy Parachutist Badge.png Naval Parachutist insignia
4 Service Stripes (reflecting 16 years of service)


  1. ^ Tami D. Cowden, Caro LaFever, and Sue Viders, The Complete Writer's Guide to Heroes & Heroines: Sixteen Master Archetypes (Lone Eage Pub., 2000), 45.
  2. ^ M. Ray Lott, The American Martial Arts Film (McFarland, 2004), 98.
  3. ^ Sylvia P. Flanagan, "Movies to See: Under Siege 2: Dark Territory," Jet (Jul 31, 1995): 56.
  4. ^ David West, Chasing Dragons: An Introduction to the Martial Arts Film (I.B.Tauris, 2006), 223.
  5. ^ Eric Lichtenfeld, Action Speaks Louder: Violence, Spectacle, and the American Action Movie (Wesleyan University Press, 2007), 169.

External links[edit]