Sgt. 1st Class Ryan James Savard, a highly trained and decorated U.S. Army Special Operations soldier, was killed in action on Saturday, Oct. 13, during combat in Afghanistan. He spent four of his teenage years in Jefferson.
Courtesy U.S. Army. (click for larger version)
October 17, 2012FORT BRAGG, N.C. — Sgt. 1st Class Ryan James Savard, a U.S. Army Special Operations soldier who spent four of his teenage years in Jefferson, was killed in action on Saturday, Oct. 13, during combat operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Savard died from direct fire from enemy forces while conducting combat operations in Konduz Province, Afghanistan.
The 29-year-old Green Beret was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, U. S. Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg.
Savard attended eighth grade at the Lancaster School and three years in the Class of 2001 at the White Mountains Regional High School in Whitefield, before his family moved to Arizona. He spent his senior year at Buena High School in Sierra Vista, Ariz., graduating in 2001, and then enlisted in the Army on Aug. 29, 2001.
Savard first served as a helicopter repairman for three years and then for more than eight years he served with Special Operations Forces.
WMRHS choral teacher Kate Richardson, who graduated in 2001 from the school remembers her classmate well from their Lancaster School years. "Ryan was very funny; he could always make you laugh," Richardson recalled. "He was a good athlete; I remember how annoyed he was the time his high school team jersey had his name misspelled 'Savaro,' instead of 'Savard,' I suppose because of his own poor handwriting. It makes me very sad to think of his death — a great loss."
Retired Navy chief Bruce Hicks of Jefferson said that Ryan had been a very good friend of his stepson, Jared Morin. "Ryan spent a lot of time at our house. He was a great young man with a great smile that just warmed you up. Ryan was high-spirited, but always considerate, respectful and polite, and we loved having him here. He went to church every Sunday. I think he knew he wanted to be in the Army, like his dad, from the time he was in 8th grade — he was always leaning in that direction.
"When he was back in the area, he came by two or three times with his wife, Kayla, who is very nice," Hicks said. "Ryan was very professional, and he clearly trained very hard. He was proud of what he was doing, and he loved the Army."
Savard was killed on his fifth deployment to Afghanistan, and he also previously he served one deployment to Iraq.
His wife, Kayla Savard, his parents Marie and Garett Savard, both now of Lancaster, and his younger sister, Mariah, survive him.
Savard was born on Feb. 27, 1983, in Salt Lake City, Utah.
He entered the U.S. Army as a Helicopter Repairer on Aug. 29, 2001 and after completion of Initial Entry Training he was assigned to Bravo Company, 7th Battalion, 159th Aviation in Gieblstadt, Germany, where he served for two years as a UH-60 Repairman.
While on that assignment, Savard deployed once to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
In June 2004, Savard graduated from the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School to become a Special Forces weapons sergeant. After graduating from the Special Forces Qualification Course, he was assigned to Company A, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), at Fort Bragg, 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.
He was 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 over two years he performed this duty, deploying twice in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Savard's awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal (2nd Award), Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal (3rd Award), Joint Service Achievement Medal, Army Achievement Medal (3rd Award), and Joint Meritorious Unit Award, and Meritorious Unit Commendation, U.S. Army, Good Conduct Medal (3rd Award), National Defense Service Ribbon, Kosovo Campaign Medal with Bronze Service Star, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with 4 Bronze Service Stars, Global War On Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War On Terrorism Service medal, Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon with numeral 3, U.S. Army Service Ribbon, U.S. Army Overseas Service Ribbon with numeral 2, NATO Medal with Bronze Service Star, Special Forces Tab, Ranger Tab, Combat Infantryman Badge, Aviation Badge, Military Free Fall Parachutist Badge, Parachutist Badge, and five Overseas Service Bars.
Savard was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal (3rd Award), the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, and the Purple Heart.
Savard completed numerous military courses while serving in the Army: the Warrior Leader Course, Basic Airborne Course, Survival Evasion Resistance Escape High Risk Survival Course, Special Forces Qualification Course, Advanced Leader Course, Special Operations Weapons Sergeant Course, Special Operations Language Training-French, Special Operations Target Interdiction Course, ULLS-A Course, Ranger Course, Special Forces Advanced Reconnaissance Target Exploitation Course, Advanced Land Navigation Course, Free Fall Parachutist Course, Senior Leader Course, and the Static Line Jumpmaster Course.
"Sgt. Ryan Savard was a hero who died fighting for our freedoms," Gov. John Lynch said in a prepared 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 would direct that flags fly at half-staff on the day of Sgt. Savard's funeral.
At the time of this writing, funeral arrangements had not yet been announced. Check for an update on the Democrat's Facebook page for an update.
Members of the Congressional delegation — Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, and Rep. Charlie Bass of the 2nd Congressional District — all said they were saddened by the news of Savard's death, expressed their gratitude for his selfless service, and offered condolences to his family and friends.