Roadside bombs in Afghanistan have claimed a third local soldier in a period of two weeks after several months of relative calm.
A Green Beret who was stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and who made his home in Lacey was killed Saturday in central Afghanistan, the Department of Defense announced Monday.
Sgt. 1st Class Dae Han Park, 36, died when enemy forces attacked his vehicle with an improvised explosive in Daykundi province, according to Army Special Operations Command.
Park was assigned to Charlie Company of the 3rd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group. He was reportedly riding on a combat reconnaissance patrol in which two other soldiers were wounded.
He was married, had two young daughters and was a devoted family man, said Maj. Matt Gregory, a spokesman for 1st Group, who said he’d known Park since 2000.
“He was a consummate professional ,” Gregory said Monday evening. “Everything he did was to improve himself so he could improve others.”
Park was on his first rotation to Afghanistan and had been in the country for about a month. His list of other military missions to the Asian continent was far-flung: Iraq, Bangladesh, Philippines, Cambodia and India.
After graduating from high school in Watertown, Conn., Park enlisted as an infantryman in 1998, according to Army records. He went on to earn his Ranger credentials in 2000, qualifying for the elite tab on his left shoulder while holding a junior rank.
“Getting a slot with the 101st Airborne is a hard thing to do, and he was a specialist at the time he did it,” Gregory said. “He also did the Best Ranger Competition (in 2002), which put him up against some of the top soldiers in the world.”
Park served in Iraq as a rifle squad leader in 2003, according to Army records. His completion of Special Forces training in 2006 led directly to an assignment with 1st Group at the Army base south of Tacoma, specializing in communications.
As a Green Beret, he joined a subculture set apart – soldiers who go on unpublicized deployments, train in languages, navigate foreign societies and work alongside indigenous forces. He is the 14th reported member of 1st Group to die in action since Sept. 11, 2001.
Park is also the third Lewis-McChord soldier killed by enemy explosives in the last two weeks. Spc. Jason Weaver and Pfc. David Fahey, both with the 170th Military Police Company, were attacked in southern Afghanistan – Weaver on March 3, Fahey on Feb. 28. Full-honor memorial ceremonies for both MPs are pending at Lewis-McChord.
Local remembrances for Park will be done on a smaller scale. As is their custom, Green Berets gather privately at their memorial wall outside 1st Group headquarters on Memorial Day and Veterans Day to dedicate the names of any recently fallen comrades.
Park is survived by his wife, Mi Kyong Park; daughters Niya and Sadie; parents, Joseph and Bonnie Schneider of Connecticut; and a sister and brother, also of Connecticut.