Iraq War Veteran Goes Missing in Arizona; SUV Torched

The Arizona Republic

Sept. 6, 2008 – Ralph Tierno knows his brother is a responsible person, a man with no fear who can handle himself.

So after his brother went missing near Globe last week, Ralph told police he suspects his brother’s disappearance was a result of foul play.

Aaron Anthony Tierno, 30, Ralph’s younger brother and a veteran of the Iraq war, was reported missing on Wednesday but hadn’t been seen since Aug. 28.

Both Aaron and Ralph Tierno are Phoenix residents, though Aaron was working for Anderson Security at a construction site in Miami.

He had just completed his shift and was on his way back to Phoenix when he disappeared.

Anderson Security told police that Aaron finished his shift on Aug. 28 around 8 p.m. He planned to stop in Globe to “get something to eat or drink” before heading back to Phoenix.

But Aaron never made it home.

His white 2000 Isuzu Amigo was found completely burned on the San Carlos Indian Reservation east of Globe. There was no sign of the driver, just ashes of partially burned papers.

Local law enforcement officials initiated an extensive search for Aaron, while members of his family were left to wonder what may have happened to their son and brother.

“We’re all very anguished right now,” Ralph said. “The worst part is not knowing. It would be better if we just knew one way or the other, whether he is still alive. He could have fallen into a well and maybe he’s just waiting to be found.”

Aaron served four years in the U.S. Army as a forward observer and completed training to become an Airborne Ranger. He fought in the Iraq war and helped to secure Baghdad International Airport when American troops invaded in 2003.

“For a large portion of his life, he was kind of a lost soul. Military service helped him become more grounded,” his brother said.

After his return from Iraq in August 2004, Aaron obtained a real-estate license and was involved in other business endeavors. He liked to travel to Asia with nothing but a backpack to purchase items to sell on eBay.

“He is very entrepreneurial, a very dynamic person. One thing that I really admire about him is that he has no fear about anything,” Ralph said.

The Gila County Sheriff’s Office issued a statewide “attempt to locate” notice to all Arizona law-enforcement agencies. Aaron’s friends and family, along with sheriff’s personnel, marched across parts of Globe, Miami and San Carlos giving fliers with his picture to local businesses.

The state Department of Public Safety conducted a search by helicopter on Thursday. Officers gathered at the scene of Aaron’s burned-out vehicle to begin a new search, on foot, Friday morning.

Around 20-25 officers participated in the search, which was limited to a relatively small area, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Law-enforcement personnel completed the foot search around 2:30 p.m. but were unable to find any new evidence that could lead them to Aaron.

Lt. Mike Johnson of the Sheriff’s Office said the agency was pursuing leads but could not comment more specifically.

Johnson did say the Sheriff’s Office plans to examine Aaron’s cellphone records in an attempt to find and track down potential leads.

Anyone with information about the case is urged to contact the Sheriff’s Office at 928-425-4449.

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