WASHINGTON – A Scottsdale soldier who was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan over the weekend was remembered Tuesday by his commanding officer as an “incredibly talented paratrooper, engineer and husband.”
Army Staff Sgt. Richard L. Berry, 27, was on patrol Sunday in the Zharay District of the Kandahar Province when an improvised explosive device was detonated. Berry and Pfc. Julian L. Colvin, 21, of Birmingham, Ala., were killed by the blast, the Army announced Tuesday.
Berry was the second Arizonan killed in Afghanistan in a little more than a week. Army Staff Sgt. Carl Eric Hammar, 24, of Lake Havasu City, died from wounds he received when his patrol came under attack July 14 in the eastern province of Khost.
Berry was on his third combat deployment – his second in Afghanistan – when he was killed. His most recent tour in support of Operation Enduring Freedom began in March.
He was a combat engineer assigned to the 508th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division based at Fort Bragg, N.C. Berry joined the Army on Feb. 23, 2006, as a combat engineer and joined the 82nd Airborne Division in May 2009.
He served in Iraq from September 2006 to November 2007 and was later deployed to Afghanistan from August 2009 to February 2010.
Berry was injured on a mission in his previous deployment and spent time recovering before returning to Afghanistan, said Lt. Col. Peter S. Levola, commander of the 508th Brigade Special Troops Battalion.
“Berry was a tremendous team leader, paratrooper and man,” said Levola in a statement. He added that Berry’s fellow soldiers would “never forget all that he went thought to overcome his injuries and experiences from the last deployment – just to join the team and deploy again.”
“He is an unforgettable hero,” Levola said.
Berry was awarded the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart with one oak-leaf cluster, the Army Commendation Medal with four oak-leaf clusters, the Army Good Conduct Medal with two knots and the National Defense Service Medal. He also received the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon, the NATO Medal with Bronze Star, the Combat Action Badge and the Basic Parachutist Badge, the Army said.
Berry leaves behind a wife.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer ordered that all state flags be lowered to half-staff Tuesday and again on the day of his burial.
“On this somber day, I encourage all Arizonans to take a moment to reflect upon the daily sacrifice of men and women in uniform such as Staff Sgt. Berry,” Brewer said in a prepared statement Tuesday.
The Department of Defense reported that 1,931 members of the U.S. military had died serving in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan as of Tuesday.
Berry was the 44th Arizonan to die in support of the operation and the sixth this year, according to iCasualties.org.