An American soldier was killed in combat in Afghanistan, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.
Sgt. 1st Class Dustin B. Ard, 31, of Idaho Falls, Idaho, died Aug. 29, 2019, after sustaining wounds in the Zabul Province, Afghanistan.
The New York Times reported Dustin Ard died after disembarking a helicopter at the start of a joint mission with Afghan commandos, though the exact circumstances of his death remain unclear.
Bruce Ard confirmed the his son’s death on the Facebook page of Idaho state Sen. Rob Furniss, saying, “My heart has a hole so big I can hardly stand it. He was the finest young man I have ever known.”
Bruce Ard — who is the former mayor of Ammon, Idaho — went on to say Dustin Ard was “A great son, brother, father, and husband. He loved his country and was the kind of person we should all be.”
According to Post Register, Dustin Ard left behind his wife, Mary, and a 3-year-old daughter, Reagan. The couple also is expecting a son.
Born in Idaho Falls, Idaho, on October 4, 1987, Dustin Ard enlisted in the Army in Hyde Park, Utah, in 2011 as a Special Forces candidate. He had served two tours in Afghanistan and had participated in Joint Combined Exchange Training exercises in Indonesia.
“Sgt. 1st Class Ard’s loss is felt across our 1st Special Forces group family,” said Col. Owen G. Ray, commander of 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne). “Our priority now is to take care of his family and our soldiers and provide the best possible care that we can during this incredible time of need.”
Dustin Ard is the third American soldier to die this week. Last week, two Special Forces soldiers were killed in Faryab Province. According to The New York Times, his death brings the number of American troops killed in combat so far this year to 15, the highest number of losses in a year since 2014, when the Pentagon announced the end of combat operations in Afghanistan. Thirteen troops were killed in 2018, and 11 in 2017.
The Salt Lake Tribune will add more to this story as it develops.