COLUMBIA, SC (WCSC) - Three South Carolina Army National Guard soldiers are dead following an attack by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan.
Maj. Gen. Robert Livingstone identified the three Thursday as 1st Lt. Ryan Rawl of Lexington, Sgt. First Class Matthew Thomas of Easley and Spc. John Meador of Columbia.
"It is with deep regret that we announce the deaths of three of our South Carolina Guardsmen," said Maj. Gen. Robert E. Livingston, Jr., the state's Adjutant General. "These men died serving their country and I want to expresses my deepest sympathy and condolences to their families, who are the unsung heroes of our war effort. These deaths are grim reminders that our Military, to include the South Carolina National Guard, is still in active combat in defense of our country. We are privileged to have such heroes in our midst."
On Wednesday, 1st Lt. Ryan Davis Rawl, 30, of Lexington, Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Bradford Thomas, 30, of Easley and Spc. John David Meador II, 36, of Columbia were killed in Khowst City, Khowst Province, Afghanistan when their patrol was attacked by a suicide bomber.
Five South Carolina National Guard soldiers were also wounded.
All eight soldiers are assigned to the 133rd Military Police Company, headquartered in Timmonsville. Officials say the mission of the 133rd MP Company in Afghanistan is to train members of the Afghan Uniformed Police in Khowst Province. The unit deployed 170 soldiers to Afghanistan in November 2011.
The 133rd MP Company is scheduled to return home this August.
With the latest fatalities, 16 members of the South Carolina National Guard have died in combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2003. The most recent combat fatalities were in October 2010, when two soldiers from the 1221st Engineer Company were killed by an IED.
Earlier in the day Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott announced that Rawl also served as a deputy with the sheriff's office. Lott says Rawl joined the sheriff's department in 2005 after graduating from The Citadel. He worked as a patrolman and later as a resource officer at Crayton Middle School in Columbia.
Lott says Rawl was hard working, energetic and an example to all brave Americans who serve in uniform.