Three soldiers from the S.C. National Guard were among those killed in Wednesday's suicide bombing in Afghanistan, according to multiple sources.
One, Ryan Rawl, 30, of Lexington, was a Richland County Sheriff's deputy who once served as a school resource officer at Crayton Middle School, Sheriff Leon Lott said Thursday.
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.
At least five others from the unit were injured, the sources said.
All served with the 133rd Military Police Company, based in Timmonsville, sources say.
"He was one of those shining stars whom you can see only go up in life," Lott said of Rawl, a married father of two young children, after a news conference announcing his death. "He was one of those that stood out because of his work ethic, and his drive and desire."
The suicide bomber attacked an Afghan-U.S. military convoy in Khost, killing two policemen and at least 14 civilians, as well as the three coalition troops and their Afghan interpreter, U.S. officials said. The statement released Wednesday didn't identify the soldiers' nationalities or other information.
Rawl was a 2004 graduate of The Citadel and a 1st lieutenant with the 133rd unit in Afghanistan. A National Guard spokesman in Columbia said the Guard had no official statement at this time on Rawl's death.
He joined the sheriff's department in 2005, Lott said, and worked as a road deputy until early 2011. At that time, he became a school resource officer at Crayton Middle School.
"He wanted to work with kids; it takes a very unique person to be a school resource officer. Not everyone is able to do that," Lott said.
Rawl was well-liked by his colleagues and the reaction around the department has been one of great sadness, Lott said.
On his Facebook page, Rawl is pictured with his unit holding a University of South Carolina flag. He said he was looking forward to coming home.
"I have two crazy but wonderful children, and I can't wait to see them again!" he wrote on Facebook.
Rawl joined the National Guard in 2006. His National Guard unit was activated for Afghanistan last summer, and he was due to come back in September, Lott said.
"Ryan is an example of the men and women who wear the uniform, not only in the sheriff's department but the military," Lott said. "They are out here every single day, in Richland County, or some foreign country, putting their life on the line. They stand tall for America, and stand tall for all of us; he gave his life doing that."
Lott said for some people these days, the war in Afghanistan is kind of an afterthought.
"We really don't pay that much attention to it," Lott said. "But if somebody is killed in a suicide attack, or by a bomb, that's somebody's husband, son parent, co-worker. We have to realize this country's at war."