Monday, November 15, 2010



Elite warriors from the United States Special Operations Command will gather this week at Fort Bragg, North Carolina to remember one of their own.

After nine tours of duty, Sergeant First Class Ronald Grider was killed in Konduz Province, Afghanistan in September on his 30th birthday. He was the father of a young daughter.

Grider, 30, a veteran of a dozen years of military service, was on his ninth deployment to a combat zone in the current Middle East conflicts.

Grider was born in Alton, Ill. He graduated from high school in 1998. Grider enlisted in the U.S. Army as an Infantryman, a month shy of his 18th birthday,
on Aug. 18, 1998. Friends and family say despite the frequent deployments, Grider was still the happy-go-lucky kid they all called "Hank," and that he had found his calling in the military.

Grider served for three years as a grenadier, rifleman and scout team leader, in C Company, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82d Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

During this time, Grider attended Ranger School graduating in May 2000. He served with the 3d battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment at Fort Benning, Georgia as a rifle team leader and squad leader, deploying once to Afghanistan and three times to Iraq.

Later, Grider attended and passed the Special Forces "Q" Course. In November 2005, the Army assigned him to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Special Operations Command, at Fort Bragg as a Special Operations team member.

"For five years, he performed this duty, deploying four times to Operation Iraqi Freedom and once more to Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom," USASOC said.

Grider served as an unofficial chaplain for older warriors in his squadron. The longer he stayed in, friends and family say, the more he sought comfort in his religion.

Grider had talked to a pastor about entering the seminary and taking his life in a new direction. He had a big thing to wrestle with: Which job would benefit other people more? The pastor said, I don't know. Ultimately, Grider opted to stay in the Army for a full to earn his retirement, and then go to seminary and come back and help the other way.

A soldier injured in the same attack that killed Aaron Grider told the family about his last moments: "He knew that he was going to die, because he was actually - he was bleeding out. He looked up at these guys that were trying to take care of him. And he said, it's OK, closed his eyes and died."

Grider's decorations include two Bronze Star Medals; he was posthumously awarded his third Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart.