State News

Three NC soldiers killed by bomber in Afghanistan

Posted October 3, 2012
Updated October 4, 2012

— Three members of the North Carolina Army National Guard have been killed by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan.

The remains of Sgt. Jeremy F. Hardison of Maysville, Staff Sgt. Donna R. Johnson of Raeford and Sgt. Thomas J. Butler IV of Wilmington were flown into Dover Air Force Base Tuesday evening.

According to the Pentagon, the three died Monday in Khost, Afghanistan, after an insurgent detonated a suicide vest while the guardsmen were on patrol.

The soldiers were assigned to the 514th Military Police Company, which is based in Winterville.

The three Americans were among 14 people killed when a Taliban suicide bomber rammed a motorcycle packed with explosives into a joint U.S.-Afghan patrol. The Associated Press reported Monday that the bomber struck shortly after the troops got out of their vehicles to walk through a market area in Khost, located in the eastern part of the country.

The others killed included an Afghan translator working with the American troops, four local police officers and six civilians. About 60 Afghan civilians were wounded.

A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility shortly after the attack.

The close contact patrols, with coalition forces working side by side with Afghan troops as advisers, mentors and trainer, are a key part of the U.S. strategy for putting the Afghans in the lead as it and other nations prepare to pull out their last combat troops by the end of 2014.

As part of that drawdown, the first 33,000 U.S. troops withdrew by the end of September, leaving 68,000 still in Afghanistan. NATO currently has 108,000 troops in Afghanistan including U.S. forces, down from nearly 150,000 at its peak last year.

Monday's attack followed more American casualties over the weekend that pushed the U.S. military's death toll for the 11-year-war above 2,000.

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Follow AP writer Michael Biesecker at twitter.com/mbieseck

4 Comments

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  • eviltwinbob Oct 3, 3:56 p.m.

    May God bless the families of these soldiers.
    I knew and served with SGT Johnson with the 1132nd. She will be missed by all those that knew and worked with her.

  • fatkatts2 Oct 3, 3:04 p.m.

    God bless the families of these wonderful people. My brother just got back from a year there and I know how it feels for them to be anxious over their soldier-loved ones well being, and get this kind of news. Heartfelt sympathies.

  • CharmedLife Oct 3, 1:23 p.m.

    I don't know either, foghat. I saw the story earlier, too. These were people who were in the same unit as a friend of mine. Very sad, and prayers going out to the families of these soldiers and also to the extended family.

  • foghat001 Oct 3, 11:45 a.m.

    Not sure what happened to the previous version and all the comments?

    Anyway - salute to these three brave young people, the finest of our country.