Members of the SC National Guard’s 133rd Military Police Company — which lost three members killed and five others wounded in a suicide blast in June — will return Sunday to South Carolina from Afghanistan.
Officials plan a 10:30 a.m. homecoming ceremony for the 150-member company at Florence’s Veterans Park.
“We’re planning a very short welcome home ceremony and we would like to have as many people as we can attend to give (the unit) the warm, heartfelt welcome they deserve,” said Capt. Darian Fennell, of the Timmonsville-based 51st Military Police Battalion.
The company has been deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom for about nine months.
Three soldiers — 1st Lt. Ryan Davis Rawl, 30, and Sgt. J.D. Meador, 36, both of Lexington, and Sgt.1st Class Matthew Bradford Thomas, 30, of Easley — were killed when a suicide bomber wearing an explosives-filled vest attacked a checkpoint in a crowded market in Khost Province. In addition, two Afghan police officers and at least 14 civilians were killed.
The unit, nicknamed the Palmetto Regulators, was training Afghan police security forces.
Rawl was a Richland County sheriff’s deputy when not deployed. Meador was a former correctional officer at the Lexington County Detention Center. The two, as well as Thomas, were married, and all had children.
Five other SC Guardsmen were wounded in the attack, though their names have not been released. But a spokesman issued a statement that the injuries included “broken bones, shrapnel wounds and amputations.”
It was the bloodiest day of the Afghan war for the SC National Guard, which has deployed more than 12,000 troops there since the war began in 2001.
“We’re not going to concentrate on that,” Fennell said. “This isn’t a memorial. We’ve had our memorials. This is just about getting them on to their families.”