The 35th Infantry Regiment Association salutes our fallen brother, SP4 Ronald H. Wildrick Jr, who died in the service of his country on December 11th, 2011 in Afghanistan. The cause of death was listed as IED. At the time of his death Ronald was 30 years of age. He was from Blairstown, New Jersey.
The decorations earned by SP4 Ronald H. Wildrick Jr include: the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Parachute Badge, the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart,
Spc. Wildrick's additional decorations include the Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Bronze Service Star, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Army Service Ribbon. Posthumous awards include the NATO Medal.
At the bottom is a link to a wonderful article about his time in the Old Guard.
On the afternoon of 11 December 2011, 2nd Platoon from Alpha Company "Apache" was conducting a patrol in the Shaunkrai Valley in the South Kunar River Valley when one of their vehicles hit an IED. SPC Ronald Wildrick from Apache Company, 2-35 IN BN and SGT Christopher Muniz from Bravo Co, 3 BSTB who was attached to Alpha Company, and Mr. Merza Turan, an American-citizen serving as a Category II Linguist were killed in action.
(From The New Jersey Star-Ledger, 12, 14, 2011)
BLAIRSTOWN -- Ron Wildrick joined the Army to carve out a better life for himself, to build a better career and make his two daughters proud of their father, a close friend since high school recalled today.
His daughters will be able to remember their father proudly, those who knew Wildrick say, though the rest of his dream was cut short.
Spc. Ronald H. Wildrick Jr., 30, died Sunday of wounds suffered when the Army said enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan's Kunar province, in the rugged, violent region of northeastern Afghanistan that borders Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
Wildrick, who grew up in Byram Township and was a graduate of Lenape Valley Regional High School in Stanhope, was a specialist with the Army's 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, based at the Schofield Barracks in Hawaii.
His remains were flown home to the United States tonight, to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. He is at least the 142nd service member with ties to New Jersey to die in Afghanistan or Iraq.
"Its just a very sad day for everybody," said Nicole DeRosa, a close friend of Wildrick's and fellow member of Lenape Valley Regional's Class of 2000.
Wildrick joined the Army about three years ago, after separating from his wife and moving in with a sister in Maryland, said DeRosa, 30, whose husband was also a close friend. Wildrick's wife, Stephanie Kasper, 25, and daughters Kaylee, 5, and Leah, 3, still live in Blairstown. Wildrick's father-in-law, Jeff Kasper, stayed with Kaylee last night, and Leah was with another family member, while their mother went to Delaware to claim her husband's remains.
"It's tough," Kasper said in a telephone interview. "Especially at this time of year, it's tough."
"He was a good kid," Kasper said of his son-in-law. "He's got two beautiful daughters, and I'm going to make sure I take care of them for the rest of their lives."
Wildrick's mother has lived in Australia since he was in high school, DeRosa said. In addition to his wife, two daughters and sister, Christie Berkey, Wildrick also leaves behind a brother, Joe. His father died several years ago.
Wildrick reportedly enlisted in the U.S. Army to provide a better life for his two daughters. DeRosa said Wildrick had been doing plumbing work while still living with his family in New Jersey, but he turned to the Army shortly after moving to Maryland in pursuit of more meaningful, and perhaps more lucrative, work. At first, she said, the military was attractive to Wildrick for the training and experience it offered, but he soon found that he liked being a soldier and that he excelled at it.
His awards and decorations include the Army Commendation Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Bronze Service Star, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Army Service Ribbon and the Basic Parachutist Badge. His posthumous awards include a Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, NATO Medal and the Combat Infantryman Badge.
"He went in with the notion to better himself and to have a better life for his girls," she said. "But after he got in it was more of a career thing."
DeRosa said Wildrick was a popular, well-known figure in high school, known as Big Ron because of his long, lean frame.
"Everybody knew him well because he was well over 6 feet tall and he looked like a string bean," she said. "Every single person he came across just loved him. I don't think he ever had one single enemy in his life, ever, ever. He was just a really good guy.
"Ron was the type of person that there was never a dull moment. We could be sitting having a cup of coffee at Dunkin' Donuts, and it would be etched in our memory forever."