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Soldier's death in Afghanistan impacts Alexandria

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news Alexandria, 56308
Alexandria Minnesota 225 7th Ave E
P.O. Box 549
56308

A soldier from New London was killed in combat Monday in Afghanistan after his convoy came under fire.

Army Pfc. Ryane Clark, 22, died when a rocket-propelled grenade hit the lead vehicle in which he was a passenger, his father, Rick Clark, said Tuesday.

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His death sent sad shockwaves through the Alexandria Technical and Community College (ATCC). He was a student of the college's law enforcement program, enrolling in the fall of 2006 and graduating in May of 2009.

Scott Berger, law enforcement coordinator at the ATCC, said Clark was "one of those stand-out students."

"He was a great, great kid - focused," Berger told the Echo Press Wednesday. "He would have served his profession very well."

His parents were notified of their son's death late Monday afternoon by a military chaplain and sergeant who came to their New London home to deliver the news.

The family was told the convoy was conducting a mine-clearing operation at Shekhabad, south of Kabul, when the attack happened, Rick Clark said.

Ryane Clark was with the 57th Engineering Company at Fort Bragg, N.C. He had been stationed in Afghanistan since late December. His parents will fly at a future date to Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Del., to be there when the body arrives back in the United States.

"They're so proud of him. He wanted to join the military since he was little," said Trisha Appeldorn, the Veterans Service officer for Kandiyohi County.

Appeldorn and Kammy Nelson of the local HomeFront Connection visited the Clarks on Tuesday morning to bring their condolences and support. Clark's mother, Tracy, was taking the news of her son's death "very hard," Appeldorn said.

Tracy Clark posted the news on her page on Facebook early Tuesday morning and requested "Prayers for God's strength, please!"

"HomeFront Connection will help the family basically with whatever they need," Appeldorn said. "This is going to be a process ... if everyone could just keep them in their thoughts and prayers."

Ryane Clark was a 2007 graduate of New London-Spicer High School, where he was on the wrestling team. During his senior year he wrestled his way to a conference championship. He also was a Boy Scout, earning the rank of Eagle Scout, the top honor in Boy Scouting, when he was a high school sophomore. His service project: building an information kiosk at Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center in Spicer.

"He loved the outdoors," Rick Clark said.

Ryane was a patrol leader and instructor who often tutored and mentored younger scouts, he said. "He was always there for people."

After completing the law enforcement program at ATCC, he joined the National Guard. He was activated into the U.S. Army and entered basic training at Fort Bragg a year ago, his father said.

Clark posted often on his page on Facebook with updates and information for family and friends. One of his first posts from Afghanistan is dated January 6: "The best part about Afghanistan is waking up and seeing mountains."

On September 4 he observed, "You know you have been deployed for a long time when your flipflops, running shoes and combat boot are held together by superglue."

His last Facebook entry is dated at 2:34 a.m. Sunday, the day before he was killed.

Rick Clark said Ryane usually called home about once a month. Because of the time difference, "he would call in the middle of the night," he said. The last time his parents heard from him, Ryane talked about wanting a new pair of boots, his father said.

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