A Florida soldier born in Tampa and raised in Jacksonville was shot and killed last week during combat operations in Afghanistan.
Army Staff Sgt. Jason S. Dahlke, 29, died Saturday in Paktika province after he was shot during a firefight on Friday. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Hunter Army Airfield, Ga.
Dahlke's father, Roger, who still lives in Jacksonville, said this was Jason's six deployment in the war on terror, his third in Afghanistan. The Dahlke family got news of his death on Saturday.
"They are all a wreck," Roger Dahlke said. "They're just numb."
The family never knew much about his missions, but they kept in touch through e-mail. Jason visited Jacksonville last month and called his father Aug. 8 to wish him a happy birthday. That was the last time they talked.
"It was what he wanted to do," Roger said of Jason's career as an Army Ranger. "We all knew the dangers and the risks."
Army officials said Jason had been awarded a Purple Heart and two Army Commendation Medals. His father said he never mentioned the honors to the family. They found out when they learned he was killed in action.
Pfc. Eric W. Hario, 19, of Monroe, Mich., died that day during the same firefight.
After graduating from Mandarin High School, he attended the University of Central Florida. He was listed by the Army as an Orlando resident, but his father said he and his wife lived in Savannah, near where he was stationed.
This is the second son the Dahlke family has lost. Jason's older brother, Joshua, was struck and killed by a drunk driver when he was 13 years old.
"Children aren't suppose to die before their parents," the distraught father said on Tuesday.
Dahlke's body arrived in Dover, Del., Sunday night. The Army is making arrangements to hold a large memorial service in Jacksonville, but the date, time and location have not been finalized.