Listen Live

A U.S. veteran and former infantryman from Idaho died in Ukraine on Tuesday after suffering injuries during an attack by Russia earlier this month, his family said.

>> Read more trending news

Dane Partridge, 34, of Rexburg, died Tuesday while on life support at a hospital in Ukraine, KIVI-TV reported.

Partridge, who served in Iraq for 15 months from 2007 to 2009, suffered critical injuries to his neck and brain stem on Oct. 3 when he was hit during a Russian tank attack on his unit in Severodonetsk, The Washington Post reported. The volunteer soldier was injured in the Luhansk region of the country, his family said, citing a doctor from a Ukrainian hospital.

Partridge and his fellow soldiers were clearing trenches when they were ambushed by two Russian vehicles, his sister, Jenny Corry, of Idaho Falls, told CNN.

“He was a fine soldier who fought with valor and bravery on the battlefield,” Partridge’s family wrote in a Facebook post. “We have been told that he was known to be at the front of his team leading his men as he would never ask his men to do anything that he wasn’t willing to do.”

A U.S. State Department spokesperson confirmed that an American had been killed in the Donbas region of Ukraine, but did not elaborate, KIVI reported.

There are no official public numbers of U.S. volunteer fighters in Ukraine, or of those who have died there, the Post reported. An official at the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington told the newspaper in March that about 4,000 people were interested in joining the newly formed International Legion of Territorial Defense of Ukraine.

Partridge’s death follows those of Luke Lucyszyn and Bryan Young in July, Stephen D. Zabielski in May and Willy Cancel in April.

Russia attacks Ukraine: American reportedly killed while fighting in Ukraine

Partridge wrote a will before buying a one-way ticket to Poland, the Post reported. He signed up to fight with the legion in April, Corry told the newspaper. “When he did leave, it was emotional for me, because I just knew in my heart it would be the last time I saw him.”

Partridge, the son of a member of the U.S. Air Force and a Red Cross aid worker, had wanted to serve in the military since he was a youth.

“All he knew growing up were flak jackets, M-16s, guard dogs and seeing NATO exercises,” his mother, Terri Hepworth, told the Post. “That was his world, and it never left him.”

When he was 3, his family moved to Altus Air Force Base in Oklahoma, according to the newspaper. His sister said that Partridge grew up “in the dirt with his friends, playing Army guy.”

The family later moved to Rexburg, and Partridge decided to join the Army after graduating from high school. He served as a turret gunner and a driver of armored vehicles in Baghdad during the Iraq War, Matt Reeves, one of his sergeants, told the Post.

Partridge left the military in 2012 with the rank of private first class, his father, Dennis Partridge, told the newspaper.

Army spokesperson Matt Leonard confirmed Partridge’s rank and tour of duty in Iraq, according to CNN.

Partridge’s body will be returned to the U.S. and he will be buried in a Veterans Affairs cemetery in Idaho, Corry told CNN.

Partridge’s wife and five children — who range in age from 2 to 15 — said goodbye to him in a video call while he was in a coma, the Post reported.

“He struggled in life, but once he got into the military, he found his element,” Hepworth told the newspaper. “His call sign was ‘Bird.’ So when you see a bird, think of my son.”