South Dakota paratrooper dies in Afghanistan The Associated Press SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — A South Dakota paratrooper based in North Carolina has died from wounds suffered in an explosion in Afghanistan. The military said Cpl. Tanner O’Leary, 23, who graduated from high school in Timber Lake, died Dec. 9. O’Leary was a combat infantryman with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C. According to a release from Gov. Mike Rounds’ office, O’Leary died of wounds sustained from an improvised explosive devise that detonated Dec. 9 in Musa Qal’eh, Afghanistan. The soldier’s cousin, Melissa O’Leary, said the family received word of his death Dec. 10. She said her cousin was a beautiful person. They grew up together on the same ranch 20 miles west of Timber Lake. “He was extremely kind, very funny ... just very fun-loving,” Melissa O’Leary said. “He was really so smart. He was absolutely a joy. “Most important, he was a wonderful father.” He leaves behind a young daughter, Alexis, of Mankato, Minn. Capt. Thomas Renner, commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, called O’Leary an “upstanding commendable paratrooper” who made sacrifices for his country. “His death was tragic and premature but the impression he made on his fellow brothers and paratroopers will last forever,” Renner said. O’Leary joined the Army in January 2005 and arrived at the 82nd Airborne Division in August 2007. O’Leary had been awarded the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon, the Combat Infantryman Badge and the Parachutist Badge, according to the release. He is the 26th member of the armed forces with South Dakota ties to die in the war on terror since 2003.
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