Update: 6 p.m. -- In addition to Richland County's Ryan Rawl, the S.C. National Guard has named two other South Carolinians killed in Wednesday's suicide attack in Afghanistan.
Maj. Gen. Robert Livingston, Jr, the state's Adjutant General, identified the other soldiers as Spc. John Meador II of Columbia, and Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Bradford "Brad" Thomas of Easley. Five guardsmen were also wounded in the attack, Livingston said.
Wednesday’s attack took place in a marketplace in the city of Khost, near the Pakistani border and about 90 miles southeast of the Afghan capital, Kabul, said the Associated Press.
The assailant approached on foot through the shops and taxi stands packed with people and then detonated his explosives as he approached Afghan and U.S. soldiers at a checkpoint, Baryalai Wakman, a spokesman for the Khost provincial government, told the AP.
"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," Livingston said. "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."
Meador, a Lexington High School graduate, was employed at an area Lowe's store, according to a WIS-TV report.
He is survived by his wife and two daughters, the station reported.
All eight soldiers are assigned to the 133rd Military Police Company, headquartered in Timmonsville. The mission of the 133rd MP Company in Afghanistan is to train members of the Afghan Uniformed Police in Khost Province.
The unit deployed 170 soldiers to Afghanistan in November 2011. The 133rd MP Company is scheduled to return home this August.
With these 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, based at the Graniteville and Batesburg armories, were killed by an IED [improvised explosive device], the Guard said.
Original story: A saddened Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott announced Thursday that Deputy Ryan Rawl, 30, was killed in Afghanistan while serving in the South Carolina National Guard.
Rawl, a Lexington native and graduate of Lexington High School and The Citadel, was killed Wednesday in a suicide bomb attack, according to reports.
The S.C. National Guard reported that three of its Guardsmern, including 1st Lt. Rawl, and an Afghan interpreter were killed in a blast that also left 17 Afghans dead in the eastern part of the country.
The other two soldiers are believed to be from Columbia and the Upstate, say sources, speaking on condition of anonymity pending official release of the information by the U.S. Department of Defense, according to this article in The State.
At least five others from the unit were injured, the sources said.
All served with the 133rd Military Police Company, based in Timmonsville.
Afghan officials said the strike in Khost province was a suicide bomber who rammed a vehicle packed with explosives into a military convoy. The Defense Department has not yet released official details of the attack.
Deputy Rawl began his career with the Richland County Sheriff’s Department in 2005 after graduating from The Citadel in 2004.
Sheriff Leon Lott stated that Ryan first worked as a patrol deputy and then became a School Resource Officer assigned to Crayton Middle School. Lott described Rawl as a hard working and energetic individual, one who had a deep love for his country. It was with this love that he joined the South Carolina National Guard, the sheriff said.
Rawl’s unit went active in 2011 and was due back in September.
Lott stated that as a deputy, Rawl was willing to stand up to protect and serve; it was with that same pride he did so in his military uniform, he said.
"He was an example to men and women who wear the uniform everywhere," Lott said. "He was an example to those who put their lives on the line everyday. Deputy Rawl stood tall with the department; he stood tall as an American."
Lott added that, "we should thank the men and women who serve our country, we should pray for them and let them know how much we appreciate their service to defend our country. We should never forget those who gave their lives."
Congressman Joe Wilson, of Lexington, said the following in a statement:
"We are able to enjoy our freedoms due to the sacrifices of the brave men and women serving in our Armed Forces. First Lieutenant Ryan Rawl paid the ultimate sacrifice dedicating his life protecting American families and all of the freedoms we hold so dear. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, and loved ones. Although I cannot fully understand the pain you are experiencing, please know that we owe Ryan our utmost gratitude and respect. Freedom is not free."
Rawl is survived by a wife and two children.