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Dept. of Defense hails local military hero

The U.S. Department of Defense has released a formal statement announcing the death of Idaho Falls native, Sgt. 1st Class Dustin B. Ard.

Ard died Thursday supporting “Operation Freedom’s Sentinel” in Afghanistan.

“Sgt. 1st Class Dustin B. Ard, 31, from Hyde Park, Utah, died Aug. 29, 2019, as a result of wounds sustained while engaged in combat operations in Zabul Province, Afghanistan. The incident is under investigation.

“Ard was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington.” He was a Green Beret.

Born in Idaho Falls on Oct. 4, 1987, he enlisted in the Army in Hyde Park, Utah in 2011 as a Special Forces candidate through the 18X program, according to Lt. Col. Loren Bymer, a USA SOOC spokesman.

Ard deployed twice to Afghanistan in support of Resolute Support Mission and participated in multiple 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.”

Ard was assigned to Fort Bragg, North Carolina and attended Special Forces Assessment and Selection and graduated from the Special Forces Qualification Course in 2015. He was then assigned to 2nd Battalion, 1st SFG (A) at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, as a Special Forces communications sergeant.

Ard’s military education includes the Basic, Advanced, and Senior Leader Courses; U.S. Army Airborne School; Military Free Fall Course; Special Operations Joint Terminal Attack Controller Course; Special Operations Sensitive Site Exploitation Course; Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape School; Korean Special Operations Language Course; and the Special Forces Qualification Course.

Ard’s awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal; Army Achievement Medal; Army Good Conduct Medal (second award); National Defense Service Medal; Afghanistan Campaign Medal (Campaign Star); Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon (third award); Army Service Ribbon; NATO Medal; Army Special Forces Tab; Combat Infantry Badge; Parachutist Badge and Military Free Fall Parachutist Badge.”

Lt. Col. Bymer said Staff Sgt. Ard was promoted to Sgt. 1st Class on August 1, 2019 and posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal and Purple Heart.

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