Three soldiers with the North Carolina National Guard were killed in a suicide-bomb attack in Afghanistan on Oct. 1.
The bodies Sgt. Thomas Butler IV, 25, of Leland, N.C.; Sgt. Jeremy Hardison, 23, of Brown’s Summit, N.C.; and Sgt. Donna Johnson, 29, of Raeford, N.C., were returned to the United States this week.
The Pentagon said all three were members of the National Guard’s 514th Military Police Co. in Winterville, N.C.
Johnson had been deployed twice to Iraq before going to Afghanistan. Hardison had been deployed once to Iraq. Butler was on his first deployment.
The soldiers were deployed to Afghanistan to help train security troops in the country.
“They were the embodiment of citizen soldiers who put everything on hold to go in harm’s way for all of us,” Maj. Gen. Gregory Lusk of N.C. National Guard, said in a statement to the Observer. “They will be remembered and sorely missed.”
The American Military Partner Association, which exists to assist LGBT soldiers and their families, reported on its Facebook page that Johnson is survived by her wife Tracy Dice. The couple had been together for several years.
The bomb went off near the Pakistan border. A report in the Charlotte Observer said a man wearing an explosives-packed vest rode into a crowded market and detonated the bomb. In addition to the deaths of the three guard members, four Afghan police officers, six Afghan civilians and the bomber died.