Dustin Ard

East Idaho resident Dustin Ard, center, died Aug. 29 while serving in Afghanistan.

An east Idaho resident and U.S. service member has died while serving overseas.

State Rep. Rod Furniss posted the news of Army Special Forces Sgt. Dustin Ard’s death Friday. He included a statement from Dustin’s father, former Ammon Mayor Bruce Ard.

“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 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.”

Ard, who would have turned 32 in October, died Thursday in the Zabul Province region, according to The New York Times. According to the report, Ard was on a joint operation with a unit of Afghan commandos when he died. The details of his death have not been released.

A post on the Chapter 16 Special Forces Association’s Facebook page relayed an announcement of Ard’s death from Army Col. Owen G. Ray.

“Dustin was a warrior — an accomplished, respected and loved Special Forces Soldier that could strike up a friendship with anyone, anywhere,” Ray said in the announcement. “Our deepest condolences go to SFC Ard’s family. We collectively mourn the loss of our Soldier and honor his service to the Nation.”

Ard leaves behind a wife Mary, and 3-year-old daughter Reagan. The couple also is expecting a son.

Ard’s death comes as the United States is discussing peace terms with the Taliban in Afghanistan. The United States has been at war with the group for nearly 18 years. He was one of 14,000 troops still stationed in the country.

According to The New York Times, Ard was the third U.S. service member to die in Afghanistan this week and the 15th this year, the highest number since the United States ceased combat operations in 2014.

Bruce Ard said his son joined the Army hoping to find a new challenge after completing a mission and college. He served for nine years, becoming a Green Beret.

Bruce said his son remained focused on his family even when serving thousands of miles away.

“He was still just Dustin,” Bruce said. “He was a loving, kind, gentle soul, and he knew what he had to do.”

Ard is the second Idaho soldier to have been killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars this year.

Army Spc. Michael T. Osorio was killed April 23 while supporting Operation Inherent Resolve in Taji, Iraq.

According to Post Register archives, nine eastern Idaho soldiers have died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

— Pfc. Jerrick M. Petty, 25, of Idaho Falls, killed Dec. 10, 2003

— Lance Cpl. Dustin V. Birch, 22, of St. Anthony, killed June 9, 2005

— Pfc. Jacob H. Allcott, 21, of Caldwell, killed April 22, 2006

— Sgt. James Holtom, 22, of Rexburg, killed Feb. 8, 2007

— Spc. Vincent G. Kamka, 23, of Idaho Falls, killed Oct. 4, 2007

— Cpl. Damon Glenn LeGrand, 27, of Idaho Falls, killed June 12, 2007

— Spc. Randy Neff Jr., 22, of Blackfoot, killed July 22, 2009

— U.S. Army Sgt. Ryan David Sharp, 28, Idaho Falls, Dec. 3, 2011

— U.S. Army Sgt. Dustin Ard, 31, Ammon, Aug. 29, 2019

Reporter Johnathan Hogan can be reached at 208-542-6746.