ALBANY, N.Y. - Lt. Colonel Todd Clark, an Albany native and Purple Heart recipient, was on his fifth tour of duty when he was killed in Afghanistan Saturday.
The NEWS CENTER spoke with a family friend who reflected on one of the last times he saw Lt. Col. Clark, calling him a "true American hero."
"We're very proud of Todd Clark," said Clark family friend, Paul Collins.
The death of 40-year-old Lt. Col. Clark has left many of his fellow Irish Americans and friends at the Capital District Irish American Association broken hearted. Collins, a board member there, said the last time he saw Lt. Col. Clark, he was helping with a ceremony, honoring Clark with a Purple Heart, following injuries he sustained during a tour of duty in 2011.
"During the Purple Heart ceremony our emotion was one of gratitude," Collins said. "Today it's one of profound sadness."
Clark died in Afghanistan Saturday. The military is not confirming the details of his death. Many learned of the Lt. Colonel's passing from his mother's facebook page.
She wrote: "My son, my hero, my heart. Pray for us, I know I need it."
Collins said this was Clark's fifth tour overseas. Clark served in the army for more than 17 years. With strong roots in the Albany area, he attended Christian Brothers Academy.
"He was a very bright individual," Collins said. "I mean, when he graduated from Texas A&M he went into the army and them he moved up the chain of command."
Collins said Clark's dad Jack, also an Army veteran, is extremely proud of his son as are all who knew him.
"He returned to do his duty and he died so that other people may be free," Collins said.
Lt. Col. Todd Clark leaves behind his wife and two children. The family says the military is currently investigating his death.