Sergeant First Class Dustin Ard, 31, of Idaho Falls, Idaho, died August 29, 2019, during combat operations in Zabul province, Afghanistan. He was on a joint operation with an Afghan commando unit.
Born in Idaho Falls, Idaho, on October 4, 1987, Ard enlisted in the Army in Hyde Park, Utah in 2011, as a Special Forces candidate through the 18X program. He was assigned to Fort Bragg, North Carolina and attended Special Forces Assessment and Selection and graduated from the Special Forces Qualification Course in 2015.
Ard was then assigned to 2nd Battalion, 1st SFG (A) at Joint Base Lewis – McChord, Washington, as a Special Forces Communications Sergeant and also served as a JTAC on his SFODA.
“Sgt. 1st Class Ard’s loss is felt across our 1st Special Forces Group Family. 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.”
Colonel Owen G. Ray, commander of 1st Special Forces Group.
Dustin Ard deployed twice to Afghanistan in support of Resolute Support Mission and participated in multiple Joint Combined Exchange Training exercises in Indonesia.
His 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. Staff Sgt. Ard was promoted to Sgt. 1st Class on August 1, 2019, and posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal and Purple Heart.
“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.”
Statement of Bruce Ard (father) posted on Facebook page of Idaho Representative Rod Furniss.
Dustin Ard leaves behind a young daughter and a wife, and an unborn child.