Green Beret Army Sergeant First Class Dustin B. Ard, 31, from Idaho Falls, Idaho, died of wounds sustained in combat in Zabul Province, Afghanistan, on August 29, 2019, leaving behind his pregnant wife Mary and young daughter Reagan.
Army Col. Owen G. Ray, commander of 1st Group said:
Dustin was a warrior – an accomplished, respected and loved Special Forces Soldier that could strike up a friendship with anyone, anywhere. Our deepest condolences go to SFC Ard’s family. We collectively mourn the loss of our Soldier and honor his service to the Nation. I ask that you keep his wife Mary, daughter Reagan, his unborn child, and parents Charles and Ruth in your thoughts and prayers.
Ard’s father Bruce, former mayor of Ammon, Idaho, said in a statement on Saturday, posted on State Rep. Rob Furniss’s Facebook page:
We received news that we lost our son Dustin in Afganistan. My heart has a hole so big I can hardly stand it. He was the finest young man I have ever known. Not because he was my son but because if the person he is. A great son, brother, father, and husband. He loved his country and was the kind of person we should all be. Son, I Love you and know we will see each other again. I will miss you every day I live without you. Love Dad.
Friends also posted messages of support to the Ard family on Facebook.
Marc Neilsen wrote on Facebook:
Dustin Ard was one of the most honorable human beings I have ever known. He was brave, strong, resilient, and humble- but above all, Dustin was kind. He took me under his wing when I was just a young, new soldier. And I will never forget his kindness.
Rest in Peace, Dustin. You were a truly great man.”
Christie Mason Ricks, a friend of Ard’s oldest sister, posted on Facebook:
I clearly remember when Dustin Ard was born as I was friends with his oldest sister all through school. Dustin didn’t just have one mom he had his 2 oldest sisters and all their friends…Please keep this entire family in your thoughts & prayers as they navigate through such a tragic loss. I’m also asking for all my friends & family to take just 1 minute today to say thank you to anyone past or present in uniform for their service & their sacrifice for our freedom. We love you Leslie & Kirk❤️❤️
Charlie Mike’s Pub in Fayetteville, North Carolina is planning to hold a memorial for Ard on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.:
Ard was the 15th United States service member killed in Afghanistan this year from a hostile action. His death comes as the Trump administration is attempting to wind down the U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan and end the 18-year war.
Ard enlisted in the Army in 2011 as a Special Forces candidate and became a Green Beret in 2015. He was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington as a Special Forces Communications Sergeant and Joint Terminal Attack Controller.
This was Ard’s second deployment to Afghanistan, in support of the mission to train Afghan forces. He also deployed multiple times for exercises in Indonesia.
His awards and decorations included 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; and Parachutist Badge and Military Free Fall Parachutist Badge.
Ard was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal and Purple Heart.