Another soldier with Maine ties has been killed in combat. The Department of Defense announced Monday afternoon that Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Bernard, 21, of New Portland died Friday during operations in  Helmand province in southern Afghanistan.

Bernard, who joined the Marine Corps in November 2006, was a rifleman assigned to 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay. He was deployed to Afghanistan in May, according to a release. He previously was deployed to Iraq in January 2008.

His awards include the Purple Heart Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and a Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, according to a Marine Corps release.

Gov. John Baldacci issued a statement Monday that he will order flags flown at half-staff on the day of Bernard’s funeral.

“Lance Cpl. Bernard gave his life helping to protect a new democracy in Afghanistan. His bravery and sacrifice will be remembered,” Baldacci said. “On behalf of a grateful state and nation, we send our deepest condolences to Lance Cpl. Bernard’s family and friends. They will remain in our hearts and prayers during this very difficult time.”

Members of Maine’s congressional delegation also expressed their sympathies to Bernard’s family and praised his military service.

“My thoughts and prayers are with the family and loved ones of Lance Cpl. Bernard,” said Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, in a statement. “We owe them a debt of immeasurable gratitude we can never repay, and must never forget. We cannot honor enough the solemn memory of this fallen soldier, who made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of us all and a grateful nation.”

Maine Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, was in Afghanistan on Monday as part of an overseas trip.

“I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Lance Corporal Joshua
Bernard,” Collins said in a statement. “I know I join so many Mainers
who will be forever grateful to this brave, young Marine for his
sacrifice, courage, and patriotism.”

Bernard is the ninth soldier with Maine ties to die in Afghanistan.

“When we lose a service member from one of our hometowns, we are reminded of the extraordinary bravery and sacrifice their service requires,” said Rep. Mike Michaud, a Democrat representing Maine’s 2nd District, in a statement.

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