Sgt. Maj. James G. “Ryan” Sartor, 40, a Special Forces company sergeant major, died Saturday during combat operations in Faryab province, Afghanistan, the Army announced Sunday.
Sartor was assigned to 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne). He died from injuries from enemy small arms fire, according to a Defense Department release.
He joined the Army in June 2001 and was assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division as an infantryman. After he completed the Special Forces Qualification Course, Sartor was assigned to 10th SFG (A) in 2005.
Sartor had deployed numerous times, according to a release from U.S. Army Special Operations Command. He first deployed to Iraq as an infantryman in 2002. As a Green Beret, he was deployed in 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2010 with 2nd Battalion, 10th Group. He also deployed with the 10th to Afghanistan in 2017 and 2019.
“We’re incredibly saddened to learn of Sgt. Maj. James ‘Ryan’ Sartor’s passing in Afghanistan. Ryan was a beloved warrior who epitomized the quiet professional," said Col. Brian R. Rauen, commander of 10th Group. “He led his soldiers from the front and his presence will be terribly missed.”
Sartor’s awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal with three oak leaf clusters, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal with three oak leaf clusters, Army Achievement Medal, Presidential Unit Citation Award, Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Valorous Unit Award with two oak leaf clusters, Meritorious Unit Citation with one oak leaf cluster and National Defense Service Medal, among others.
He has been posthumously awarded the Purple Heart medal and Bronze Star medal.
Sartor also earned the Special Forces Tab, Ranger Tab, Combat Infantryman Badge, Senior Parachutist Badge and Special Operations Diver Badge.
He is the 12th service member to have died this year in Afghanistan. Nine others have died in combat and two in non-combat related incidents.
Kathleen Curthoys is editor of Army Times. She has been an editor at Military Times for 20 years, covering issues that affect service members. She previously worked as an editor and staff writer at newspapers in Columbus, Georgia; Huntsville, Alabama; Bloomington, Indiana; Monterey, California and in Germany.