UPDATED: Soldier from Jefferson killed in combat in Afghanistan
A 29-year-old veteran Special Forces soldier from Jefferson was killed by small arms fire in Afghanistan, the Department of Defense confirmed Sunday.
Sgt. 1st Class Ryan James Savard was shot multiple times Friday at an undisclosed location in Afghanistan. Savard's body was expected to arrive at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware Sunday night.
Attempts to reach his parents, Garett and Marie Savard of Lancaster, were unsuccessful.
'Sgt. Ryan Savard was a hero who died fighting for our freedoms,' Gov. John Lynch said in a statement. 'My thoughts and prayers and those of my wife Susan are with his entire family at this time. This is a tremendous loss for our state and our nation. We must not forget that many brave men and women continue to sacrifice for us and we must be there for them and their families.'
Lynch said he will direct that flags fly at half-staff on the day of Sgt. Savard's funeral.
According to a DoD release, Sgt. 1st Class Ryan J. Savard was born Feb. 27, 1983, in Salt Lake City, Utah. He lived in Jefferson and attended White Mountain Regional High School in Whitefield, graduating in 2001 from Buena High School in Sierra Vista, Ariz.
He first entered the U.S. Army as a helicopter repairer on Aug. 29, 2001 and after completion of training was assigned to Bravo Company, 7th Battalion, 159th Aviation in Gieblstadt, Germany. There he served for two years as a UH-60 repairman. While assigned to the 159th Aviation, Savard deployed once to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
In June 2004, Savard attended and graduated from the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School to become a Special Forces weapons sergeant. He was assigned to Company A, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), in Fort Bragg, N.C., where he served as a Special Forces Company assistant operations sergeant and a Special Forces weapons sergeant.
In 2008, Savard was assigned to Operations Detachment Group Support Battalion, 3rd SFG (A) where he served as a Senior Special Forces weapons sergeant. Savard deployed three times to Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom.
Savard was assigned in May 2010 as a Special Operations team member, U.S. Army Special Operations Command. For more than two years he served in this role, deploying twice in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
His many awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal (2nd Award), Purple Heart, the Army Commendation Medal (3rd Award), Joint Service Achievement Medal, Army Achievement Medal (3rd Award), and five Overseas Service Bars. Savard has been posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal (3rd Award), the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, and the Purple Heart.
Savard is survived by his spouse, Kayla Savard. Service details were not made public as of Sunday night.
'Ryan James Savard protected our country with bravery and honor and that is how we will always remember him,' said U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). 'This is a tragic loss and my heartfelt condolences go out to his friends and family.'
'I am deeply saddened to learn of the loss of one of New Hampshire's finest, SFC Ryan Savard of Jefferson,' said Second District Congressman Charles F. Bass. 'We owe SFC Savard a tremendous debt of gratitude for his selfless service to our nation, and his tragic loss reminds us of the sacrifice and commitment of the men and women in our armed forces who risk their lives every day for the cause of freedom.'