Army veteran dies while fighting as a volunteer in Ukraine

BOISE, Idaho — In the days since Dane Partridge was fatally wounded while serving as a volunteer soldier in Ukraine, his sister has found moments of comfort in surprising places: First, a misplaced baseball cap discovered in her laundry room, then in a photo of a battered pickup truck with only one tire intact.

The 34-year-old Idaho man died Tuesday from injuries sustained during a Russian attack in Luhansk.

A former U.S. Army infantryman, Partridge felt “spiritually called” to volunteer with the Ukrainian military as they defend the country against invading Russian forces, said his sister Jenny Corry. He flew to Poland on a one-way ticket in April, his backpack packed with body armor, a helmet and other tactical gear.

“Made it to the embassy, ​​got on a bus to the border,” Partridge wrote on his Facebook page on April 27. “From this point on I probably won’t give out locations or actions for opsec reasons. I’ll let you all know I’m alive.”

Partridge joined a military unit that included several volunteers from other countries, Corry said, the men mostly relying on interpreters to communicate. Partridge and his fellow soldiers were in Severodonetsk, a city in the Luhansk region, when he was hit in the head with shrapnel during an attack by Russian combat vehicles, Corry said.

The unit had no stretchers and was still under attack, Corry said, but Partridge’s fellow soldiers carried him out on a blanket and loaded him and other wounded colleagues into a drably painted pickup truck to get them to safety.

“I have a picture of the truck,” Corry said in a phone interview Friday. The picture shows a sad painted pickup truck with shredded rubber hanging from the wheel hubs. All but one of the tires were destroyed in the dismal rush to safety.

“As a family we really like that image of the vehicle – it speaks to the bravery of how they tried to save their men and the way they pushed the vehicle to its last legs just to get to the hospital,” she said. “That speaks volumes.”

Agerhøne leaves behind five small children. Corry deflected questions about the children and some other parts of Partridge’s life, saying the family had collectively agreed to focus on his military service out of respect for those “who are still alive and still affected by his personal life.”

“We just want to focus on the good that he did and we don’t want to mention any personal stuff,” Corry said in a phone interview Friday.

Military service has been a big part of Partridge’s life. He was the youngest of five children and his father was a member of the US Air Force. As a child, Partridge liked to dress up in his father’s oversized camouflage uniform and play “army guy” in the dirt, Corry said.

By the time he graduated from high school, Partridge had grown into a gregarious man with a booming voice and a jovial personality, she said.

“When he showed up, you knew he was there. He had a bigger personality,” she said. “If someone was upset, he would make sure he cheered them up. He liked to spend quality time with people.”

He joined the US Army in 2006 and served in Baghdad as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2007 to 2009 before leaving the military in 2012.

He didn’t talk much about his experiences in Iraq, but she knew some of it weighed heavily on him throughout his life.

“He was a Humvee driver, and when he was training, they told him that as a driver, if he tried to save himself, his men would probably be killed, but if he saved his men, he would most likely be killed, Corry said. brother told her. “It was something that sat deep within him.”

Yet it was the battlefield where Partridge thrived. Corry believed that the adrenaline, the sense of purpose and the heightened sense of service was what attracted him.

“It was almost as if he could see that he had a greater purpose to fulfill,” she said. “Sometimes it was harder for him to blend into the civilian world.”

When Russia invaded Ukraine, Partridge felt the need to help the Ukrainians. He was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and believed he was spiritually called to join the fight, she said.

“He believed it with every fiber of his being and he wanted to honor his God,” she said.

He stayed with Corry for a while before making the trip to Ukraine. After she left, she found his camouflage baseball cap had been left in her laundry room. It was strange, she said, because he was very neat and organized and never left things lying around.

“I kind of put it to the side and it sat there for a while,” she said, holding a shaky breath. “And the day I decided to pick it up and wear it because I wanted to feel close to him is the day he died.”

Partridge’s family knew he might not come home. A few urged him to think about his decision a little longer, but Partridge was determined to serve, she said.

“We are sorry, but due to the circumstances, it was already a thought that he might pass away. It wasn’t like we were blind,” Corry said. “In a way, it was something we had to understand when he went over there.”

Partridge was in a coma and was on life support for eight days before he died. Family members had a chance to say goodbye, long distance, before he passed, she said.

The family is raising money to try to bring Partridge’s remains home for burial in Blackfoot, Idaho. They also hope to raise money to replace the truck his unit used to bring Partridge to the hospital and to buy other vital supplies for his unit, she said.

“We just want to do something to pay the men back,” Corry said.

At least four other US citizens have been killed while fighting in Ukraine, based on reports from their families and the US State Department. The Ukrainian government has recruited people with military experience to join the International Legion of Territorial Defense of Ukraine.

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