Ryan Job, who grew up in Issaquah, died Thursday morning after major reconstructive surgery in Phoenix. He was 28.

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Blinded by a sniper’s bullet in Iraq, Ryan Job retained his characteristic determination and persistence. He climbed Mount Rainier, trained for a triathlon and became a spokesman for an organization that helps wounded veterans transition to civilian life.

“He didn’t back down from any challenge,” said a friend, Tyler Lein, of Scottsdale, Ariz.

Mr. Job, who grew up in Issaquah, died Thursday morning after major reconstructive surgery at Maricopa Medical Center in Phoenix. He was 28.

Mr. Job’s younger brother, Aaron, served three tours of duty in Iraq with the Marines. The Seattle Times profiled the Job family during Aaron Job’s deployments in 2003 and 2004.

A story on Ryan Job, a former Navy SEAL, reaching the summit of Mount Rainier appeared in July 2008.

The men’s mother, Debbie Job, of Issaquah, said her son had taken on the challenge of blindness with the same strength with which he confronted other challenges in his life.

“He was determined not to be a disabled guy,” his mother said Friday by phone from Arizona.

Ryan Job underwent an eight-hour surgery Monday to rebuild his face. The recovery seemed to be proceeding smoothly, his mother said, though her son reported some discomfort Wednesday night. A nurse checked on him at 3:30 a.m. Thursday. He was found unresponsive at 5 a.m. She said the hospital had not determined the cause of death.

“It wasn’t supposed to happen like this,” said Debbie Job. “It’s a total shock.”

Neighbors of the Job family on the Sammamish Plateau recalled Ryan Job as a strong, physically active young man who had been determined to join the elite Navy special-operations force, despite the grueling training regimen. Mr. Job regularly swam across Beaver Lake a few miles from his home and ran for hours before dawn, said Neil Iovino, a neighbor who watched the Job boys grow up.

“His goal was to be a Navy SEAL and it didn’t matter how hard it was,” Iovino said.

Ryan Job was born in 1981, the eldest of three children. He graduated from Issaquah High School in 1999 and joined the Navy in 2002. Mutual friends in San Diego, where he trained for the SEALS, introduced him to his future wife, Kelly. The couple married in 2007.

Mr. Job was on patrol in Ramadi, Iraq, in 2006 when a sniper’s bullet struck his rifle. Pieces of the shattered weapon tore through his face, destroying one eye and severing the optic nerves of the other.

After his injury, Mr. Job spent time in military hospitals in Maryland, Florida and finally Palo Alto, Calif.

He and Kelly moved to Arizona in 2007 with the help of the Sentinels of Freedom Scholarship Foundation. The California-based organization assists armed-forces veterans severely injured in the line of duty on or after Sept. 11, 2001.

The foundation found a condo for the couple to live in, arranged for furniture and helped Mr. Job enroll in an online college program to complete the business degree he’d begun at the University of Washington.

“He was a great spokesman for the organization,” said Lein, whose father, Howard Lein, founded the Arizona chapter of the Sentinels.

A 2007 story in The Arizona Republic quoted Mr. Job as saying he and his wife wanted to return the generosity others had shown them.

“Once I’m back on my feet, we’d like to help the next group of guys make the same transition.”

Debbie Job said her daughter-in-law is pregnant with the couple’s first child.

Aaron Job works with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and hopes to find a job in the Seattle area, his mother said.

In addition to his mother, wife and brother, Mr. Job is survived by his father, Eric Job, his sister, Kelsie, and his grandmother Barbara McCormick of Sammamish.

Services are planned for Thursday at the Scottsdale, Ariz., Bible Church.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be sent to either Camp Patriot, www.camppatriot.org; Sentinels of Freedom, www.sentinelsoffreedom.org; or the Naval Special Warfare Foundation, www.nswfoundation.org.

Lynn Thompson: 206-464-8305 or lthompson@seattletimes.com