2 North Dakota soldiers killed in Afghanistan; one wounded but in stable condition
FARGO - One was a seasoned soldier, with multiple tours and more than 20 years of experience. The other was fresh out of high school and on his first overseas deployment.
Both received the military's fourth-highest award for bravery and heroism - the Bronze Star Medal - after being killed in action on Monday evening.
Sgt. 1st Class Darren Linde, 41, of Devils Lake, and Spc. Tyler Orgaard, 20, of Bismarck, were killed around 6:30 p.m. in southern Afghanistan when an improvised explosive device struck their vehicle during a route clearance operation, the North Dakota National Guard said Tuesday night in a press release.
They are the 13th and 14th guardsmen to die in action from North Dakota. The last casualty from state's National Guard occurred six years ago, the release said.
"We are extremely saddened by the loss of two of our soldiers and extend our most sincere condolences and prayers to their family and friends during this time of sorrow," Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk said in the release.
Spc. Ian Placek, 23, also of Bismarck, was wounded in the attack and is listed in stable condition at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, the release said.
The three were assigned to the 818th Engineer Company out of Williston, with a detachment in Hazen. The unit arrived in Afghanistan in June.
Linde and Orgaard were also posthumously awarded the Purple Heart, given to those wounded or killed while serving. Orgaard was awarded the Army Good Conduct Medal posthumously, as well.
According to the release, Linde is survived by his wife, Adrienne, and their four children. He holds many awards and decorations, including the Army Commendation and Army Good Conduct Medal.
Linde first enlisted with the Army National Guard in 1990, and was deployed to Iraq with the 164th Engineer Battalion from August 2007 to April 2008. He also previously served with the U.S. Army and the Montana National Guard. Since 2009, he served as a full-time instructor at the Camp Grafton Training Center in Devils Lake.
Orgaard joined the Army National Guard shortly before his graduation from Bismarck's Century High School in 2011. During his service, he was awarded the National Defense Service Medal, given to those who serve honorably during periods of national emergency. He is survived by his parents, Josephine and Jesse Orgaard.
"We will never forget these heroes or the last full measure of devotion they gave in defense of our homeland and our way of life," Gov. Jack Dalrymple said in the release.
Currently, more than 125 North Dakota Guardsmen are serving overseas, and over 4,000 remain in the state for national defense and emergency response, the release said.