BISMARCK, N.D. | Two North Dakota National Guard members were killed and one was injured in a roadside bomb attack Monday in southern Afghanistan.
In a statement, the North Dakota National Guard adjutant general, Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, said Spc. Tyler J. Orgaard, 20, of Bismarck, and Sgt. 1st Class Darren M. Linde, 41, of Devils Lake, were killed in action. Spc. Ian Charles Placek, 23, also of Bismarck, was wounded in the attack and is listed in stable condition at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.
The soldiers were assigned to the 818th Engineer Company (Sapper) and were conducting route clearance operations when an improvised explosive device struck their vehicle.
The attack occurred at 7:58 a.m. CST on Monday. Local Afghanistan time was 6:28 p.m.
The 818th Engineer Company is headquartered in Williston with a detachment in Hazen. About 100 soldiers with the unit entered federal active-duty status on April 27 and arrived for duty in Afghanistan in June, Sprynczynatyk said.
Orgaard, the son of Josie and Jesse Orgaard, joined the National Guard shortly before graduating from Century High School in 2011. He completed basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. It was his first overseas deployment.
Linde is survived by his wife, Adrienne, of Devils Lake, and four children. He deployed to Iraq with the North Dakota National Guard’s 164th Engineer Battalion from August 2007 to April 2008. Linde originally enlisted in the North Dakota Army National Guard in 1990. He served in the U.S. Army and Montana Army National Guard before returning to the North Dakota Guard in 2006. Since 2009, he had served as a full-time instructor with the North Dakota National Guard’s 164th Regional Training Institute, Camp Grafton Training Center, Devils Lake.
In a statement, Gov. Jack Dalrymple said, “Our hearts and prayers are with their families as they grieve the loss of their loved ones. Our thoughts are also with Spc. Placek as he recovers from his injuries. 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.”
Sprynczynatyk said funeral arrangements will be announced when they are finalized.
“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,” Sprynczynatyk said. “We also wish Spc. Placek a speedy recovery. We will always remember our brave soldiers who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.”
In high school, Orgaard was a member of the Century Patriots wrestling team and began competing in the Impact Fighting Championships while still in high school.
On Tuesday, Century High School Principal Steve Madler said the school received word in the morning that Orgaard had been killed.
“We know very little information,” Madler said. The school’s crisis team, which includes counselors and other staff, was activated to meet with students at the school, he said.
Chad Kurle, owner of Bismarck Combat Sports, began training Orgaard when he was 16 years old.
Kurle said Orgaard made his mixed martial arts debut at the first event Kurle hosted. He said he embodied the old saying “you can’t judge a book by its cover” in more ways than one.
“Tyler was a tall, lanky kid,” he said, “six-foot-one and about 145 pounds. He was all arms and legs.”
All arms and legs, and no quit, Kurle said: “He had a passion for the sport ... he took on all comers and threw himself into it completely.”
Kurle said Orgaard’s dedication to the sport was a genuine snapshot of him as a person.
“Tyler would train against pros with 15 or more fights (of) more experience ... he pushed them harder than anyone else in the gym and he made everyone else in the gym better.”
Kurle said he met with Tyler’s parents Tuesday morning when he got word of his death.
He said they were doing as well as could be expected under the circumstances.
“It’s amazing,” Kurle said. “Even through this, it’s amazing how proud they are of Tyler.”
The deaths bring to a total 26 North Dakotans who have died since the global war on terrorism began on Sept. 11, 2004.
The last time a North Dakotan was killed in combat in the Middle East was in 2010. Keenen Cooper of Wahpeton, a specialist in the U.S Army, died July 5 that year in an insurgent attack in Yakuta, Afghanistan.
The last soldiers from Bismarck killed in action were Spc. Curtis Mehrer and Sgt. Travis Van Zoest. They were killed June 6, 2006, when their vehicle hit a mine in Khogyani, Afghanistan.