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James MacPherson, Associated Press, Published December 13 2012

'A soldier through and through': North Dakota Guardsman laid to rest

BISMARCK – A North Dakota Army National Guardsman killed in Afghanistan told his mother when he was 7 years old that he wanted to be a soldier and serve his country.

Spc. Tyler Orgaard, 20, of Bismarck, “had a passion for the military from the time he was a small child,” Gov. Jack Dalrymple said at Orgaard’s funeral Thursday. “He died doing what he loved ... he died an American hero.”

Orgaard and Sgt. 1st Class Darren Linde, 41, of Devils Lake, were killed in a roadside bomb attack in southern Afghanistan on Dec. 3. Both were members of the Williston-based 818th Engineer Company. Spc. Ian Placek, 23, of Bismarck, was wounded.

Placek attended Orgaard’s funeral Thursday, seated in a wheelchair near Dalrymple, Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley, Sen. John Hoeven, Sen.-elect Heidi Heitkamp and U.S. Rep.-elect Kevin Cramer.

Orgaard’s family had said he was a gifted guitarist and pianist, an accomplished mixed-martial artist and a devoted son who loved his mom Josephine’s meatball and mashed potato dinners. But they said his biggest love was the military. He joined the National Guard in January 2011.

Orgaard was a “son, brother, friend and a soldier through and through,” Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, the state Guard commander, told mourners at the Church of Corpus Christi.

The Bismarck church, which holds about 900 people, was packed. Tears flowed as Orgaard’s father, Jesse, played guitar and sang songs in tribute to his son.

Orgaard was buried Thursday afternoon at the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery south of Mandan. Dalrymple requested that flags be flown at half-staff through Thursday in honor of the fallen soldiers. Services for Linde were held Tuesday in Sidney, Mont., where he grew up.

Linde, Orgaard and Placek were among about 100 members of the 818th who deployed in April. The unit arrived in Afghanistan in June after completing final training at Fort Bliss in Texas. The unit handles combat engineer missions including route clearance, which the soldiers were doing when the attack occurred.