IDAHO FALLS — A U.S. service member from eastern Idaho was killed in Afghanistan on Thursday.
Dustin Ard, son of former Ammon Mayor Bruce Ard, died during a combat operation. Idaho Rep. Rod Furniss posted a statement from Mayor Ard on his Facebook page:
“We received news that we lost our son Dustin in Afghanistan. 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 of 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.”
Ard was a member of the Army Special Forces. He died in Zabul Province after getting out of a helicopter at the start of a joint mission with Afghan commandos, The New York Times reported. The exact circumstances of his death remained unclear.
Ard is the third American soldier to die in Afghanistan within the last week. Master Sgt. Louis DeLeon-Figueroa and Master Sgt. Jose Gonzalez were both killed in action.
News of another American casualty in Afghanistan comes one day after President Donald Trump said he is planning to withdraw thousands of U.S. forces from the country but will keep 8,600 troops there, at least for the time being.
The United States has about 14,000 service members in Afghanistan, who, alongside NATO troops, help train and advise Afghan troops and conduct counterterrorism operations.
Current Ammon Mayor Sean Coletti also expressed condolences to the family.
“I am saddened to hear about the sudden loss of former Ammon Mayor Bruce Ard’s son, Dustin Ard, who was serving in Afghanistan,” he wrote on Facebook. “So tragic to lose one of our American heroes, and especially someone with such close ties. Our thoughts and prayers are with Bruce and his family.”
“Prayers to the family that has given the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom here at home,” Furniss added to his post.