WATERTOWN—A soldier who graduated from Watertown High School has died in Afghanistan, the Armysaid Monday.
Sgt. 1st Class Dae Han Park, 36, died Saturday near Kajran, in Daykundi province, Afghanistan.
Park, a solider with Charlie Co., 3rd Battalion,1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), was fatally injured when his vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb. He is the 12th service member with Connecticut ties to die in Afghanistan. Park's unit is based at Fort Lewis, Wash
Park was married and the father of two children, according to officials at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state.
Gov.Dannel P. Malloyon Monday ordered that Connecticut and U.S. flags be lowered to half staff to honor Park. They will be raised again at sunset on the day of Park's interment.
"Sgt. 1st Class Park's family, particularly his father and stepmother, his wife and children, as well as his friends, are in Cathy's and my thoughts and prayers," Malloy said in a statement released by his office.
"This is a devastating time for those who knew and loved Sgt. 1st Class Park, and for the people with whom he served. He is a hero who died serving his country and he will be honored and remembered as such. We are reminded of the toll war exacts on this country and military families, and how important it is to thank our soldiers for the work they are doing. We pray for their safe return."
Information about Park's funeral arrangements was not immediately available.
Col. John Whitford, a spokesman for the Connecticut Army National Guard, said that Guard soldiers notified Park's parents of his death.
Park enlisted in the Army in February 1998 and after basic training was assigned to the 327th Infantry Regiment at Fort Campbell, Ky. In 2000, he earned a Ranger tab and deployed to Iraq as a rifle squad leader. In 2005, he volunteered for the Special Forces Assessment and Selection Course, completed special forces training and joined the elite Army group in 2006.
He served as a communications sergeant with the 3rd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group, and served in Bangladesh, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Philippines, Cambodia and India. He was on his first rotation to Afghanistan.
He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart but has also earned during his career the Bronze Star, the combat infantryman's badge, the expert infantryman's badge, the air assault badge, the parachutist's badge, the Ranger tab, the Airborne tab, the special forces tab and other commendations.
His survivors include his wife, Mi Kyong Park, and daughters, Niya and Sadie; parents Joseph and Bonnie Schneider of Thomaston; and his sister, Katie, and brother, Saejin, of Watertown.