In the days after Dane Partridge was fatally injured while serving as a volunteer soldier in Ukraine, his sister found moments of solace in surprising places: first, a misplaced baseball cap discovered in her laundry room, then on a photo of a dented van. with only one tire intact.
The 34-year-old from Idaho died Tuesday from injuries sustained in a Russian attack in Luhansk.
A State Department spokesman confirmed the recent death of an American citizen in the Donbass without naming them, The Washington Post reported.
A former US Army infantryman, Partridge felt “spiritually called” to volunteer with the Ukrainian military as it defended the country against invading Russian forces, his sister Jenny Corry said. He flew to Poland on a one-way ticket in April, his backpack stuffed with a body armor, helmet and other tactical gear.
“Drove to the embassy, got on a bus for the border,” Partridge wrote on his Facebook page on April 27. I’m alive.”
Partridge joined a military unit that included several volunteers from other countries, Corry said, with the men relying primarily on interpreters to communicate. Partridge and his fellow soldiers were in Severodonetsk, a town in the Luhansk region, when he was hit in the head by 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 comrades carried him on a blanket and loaded him and other injured colleagues into a van to put them in. safe.
“I have a picture of the truck,” Corry said in a phone interview Friday. The photo shows a dull painted pickup with shredded rubber hanging from the wheel hubs. All but one of the tires were destroyed in the race to safety.
“As a family we really love this photo of the vehicle – it shows the bravery of how they tried to save their men and how they pushed this vehicle to its final stage just to get to the ‘hospital,’ she said. “That says a lot.”
Partridge leaves behind five young children. Corry deflected questions about children and some other parts of Partridge’s life, saying the family had jointly agreed to focus on his military service out of respect for those ‘still living and still affected by his personal life’ .
Military service had been a big part of Partridge’s life. He was the youngest of five children and his father was a member of the United States Air Force. As a child, Partridge liked to dress up in his dad’s oversized camouflage uniform and play “army guy” in the dirt, Corry said.
By the time he had graduated from high school, Partridge had become a gregarious man with a booming voice and a pleasant personality, she said.
“When he arrived you knew he was there. He had a bigger personality,” she said. “If someone was sad, he was going to make sure to cheer them up. He loved spending quality time with people.”
He enlisted in the US Army in 2006 and served in Baghdad in 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 them had weighed heavily on him throughout his life.
Yet this was the battleground where Partridge thrived. Corry believed that the adrenaline, sense of purpose and increased sense of service were what appealed to her.
“It was almost like he could tell he had a bigger goal to accomplish,” she said. “Sometimes it was more difficult for him to integrate into the civilian world.”
When Russia invaded Ukraine, Partridge felt the need to help the Ukrainians.
Partridge was in a coma and on life support for eight days before he died. Family members had a chance to say goodbye, long distance, before he passed away, she said.
The family is raising money to bring Partridge’s remains home for burial in Blackfoot, Idaho. They also hope to raise money to replace the truck used by her unit to get Partridge to the hospital and buy other vital supplies for her unit, she said.
At least four other US citizens were killed while fighting in Ukraine, according to reports from their families and the US State Department. The Ukrainian government has recruited people with military experience to join the International Legion for the Territorial Defense of Ukraine.