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Vt. soldier, wounded 4 years ago in Iraq, dies in Afghanistan

“He was a warrior. He loved the Army,’’ said the father of Specialist Ryan J. Grady, who was killed by a bomb. “He was a warrior. He loved the Army,’’ said the father of Specialist Ryan J. Grady, who was killed by a bomb.
By Emma Stickgold
Globe Correspondent / July 5, 2010

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He was injured while serving in Iraq several years ago, his leg wounded from an improvised explosive device. But Specialist Ryan J. Grady of the Vermont Army National Guard was determined to be a career soldier, and headed back overseas in March, this time to Afghanistan.

On Friday, Grady died shortly after his military vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device near Bagram Airfield.

“He was a warrior,’’ said his father, James A. Grady of West Burke, Vt. “He loved the Army.’’

At 6 feet 4 inches, Grady was “a big, friendly giant,’’ his father said.

He liked to fish, and was a Boy Scout. He attended an Oklahoma military school, joining the Army after graduating in 2003.

He and his wife, Heaven, whom he married shortly after he joined the Army, had a daughter, Alexis, who is now 6.

He left for Iraq in February 2005, and was awarded a Purple Heart for the injuries he sustained in 2006. He briefly served in an Oklahoma battalion before returning to the National Guard last September.

Major General Michael Dubie, Vermont adjutant general, offered his condolences to the family, saying in a prepared statement, “Specialist Grady has made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of a nation that he both loved and served.’’

“It’s a terrible tragedy,’’ Grady’s father said.

In addition to his father, daughter, and wife, Grady leaves his mother, Debbie Hudacek of Bristow, Okla., and two brothers, Kevin of St. Johnsbury, Vt. and James of Muskogee, Okla.

Services are being planned.

Emma Stickgold can be reached at estickgold@globe.com.

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