Thursday, June 21, 2007

Ward (Darryl W.) Linder dies 'of wounds suffered from an improvised explosive device'

Ward Linder was all-American. As his father puts it, "he loved God, country and family."

The happy, tall young man who loved the outdoors, was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq on Tuesday.

Linder, 24, an Army specialist from Hickory, left for a one-year tour in Iraq in January and expected to come home for a two-week leave July 13, his father said.

Darryl Linder last talked to his son, his only child, on Father's Day.

"He said he loved me and he was looking forward to coming home," he said. "I encouraged him to mail me some pictures and he said, `I'll be home in a few weeks, Dad.' "

Tuesday about 8 p.m., an Army chaplain and an officer came to the Linders' home. "That's a sight I never wanted to see," Darryl Linder said.

They told Linder's parents the few facts they said they knew, that a roadside bomb killed their son, and that was about it. On Wednesday, officers from Fort Bragg returned for a follow-up visit, to check in on the Linders and to do some paperwork, but they had no additional information to give.

A news release from the Army said Ward Linder died in Baqubah, Iraq, of wounds suffered from an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, based in Fort Hood, Texas.

Linder normally drove a tank, his father said, but he didn't know whether Linder was driving one at the time.

The simple fact that Linder believed in what he and the other service members are doing in Iraq is helping his parents cope with his death, said Darryl Linder.

Ward Linder signed up with the Marine Corps while still in school at Fred T. Foard High and left for boot camp at Parris Island a month after graduation. He served four years, including a tour in Afghanistan, then worked for his father for a year and signed up with the Army, serving in the infantry, as he had in the Marines.

"I encouraged him get a different (specialty), but he liked the infantry, and he did believe in what we were doing," Darryl Linder said. "He was there by choice. I would've hated to have lost him if he had disagreed with it. I mean, it doesn't make it any easier."

Ward Linder, who was 6 feet 4 inches tall, attracted people with his happy outlook and friendliness, said Darryl and Linder's grandfather, Wardlaw, for whom he was named. He adored baseball, hunting and fishing.

From Iraq, Ward Linder told his parents that the country was "extremely hot," Darryl Linder said. "His comment to me was, `I don't believe I'm going to be digging footings for a house here.' "

In addition to his parents and grandparents, Ward Linder also is survived by a 3-year-old son, his father said.

From the Charlotte Oberserver