Sgt. 1st Class Dustin B. Ard, of 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), is identified as the third U.S. Special Forces soldier killed in Afghanistan under two weeks.
Ard, 31, was on his third deployment to Afghanistan when he died on Aug. 29 from wounds he sustained during combat operations in Zabul Province, Afghanistan, said Lt. Col. Loren Bymer, a spokesman for U.S. Army Special Operations Command.
He died after disembarking a helicopter at the start of a joint mission between U.S. Army Special Forces and Afghan commandos Thursday, according to the New York Times report. The U.S. State Department did not provide any further explanation of how the soldier was killed.
He had recently been promoted to sergeant first class on Aug. 1 and has been posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star, Bymer said.
“Sgt. 1st Class Ard’s loss is felt across our 1st Special Forces Group Family,” Col. Owen G. Ray, commander of 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), said in a news release. “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.”
It has been a particularly deadly year in Afghanistan for U.S. troops. A total of 18 service members have died this year supporting Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, including eight soldiers from Special Forces. In last two weeks, three U.S. soldiers were killed in Afghanistan.
Last week, Master Sgt. Luis DeLeon-Figueroa, 31, from Chicopee, Mass., and Master Sgt. Jose Gonzalez, 35, of La Puente, Calif., both died from gunfire in Afghanistan’s Faryab province.