GREER, SC — The family of Army Sgt. Channing Bo Hicks, who was killed last week in Afghanistan, is numb.
Bos father, Chan Hicks Sr., can barely speak, and his sister Brinnas eyes fill with tears as her uncle Dennis talks about Bos Army service.
Bos great grandmother, Faye, and grandmother, Kaye, sit quietly in Kayes living room as somber visitors come and go to give their condolences. Around the room are photos of Bo, as a young football player, in a tuxedo and in his fatigues.
Bo Hicks, 24, and Spc. Joseph A. Richardson of Booneville, Ark., 23, died Friday in Paktika province. The soldiers were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, at Fort Riley, Kansas.
Department of Defense officials said the men died from injuries they suffered when enemy forces attacked their unit with an improvised explosive device and small arms fire.
They were in a very hostile place this time, Dennis Hicks said of Bos most recent deployment which began in May. He had also served two tours in Iraq, and decided to re-enlist and deploy again to provide for his children, Wesley, 6, and Delilah, 7. He was set to come home in February.
As he talks, Dennis holds a framed photo of his nephew, and a small American flag patch that fell off his uniform during one of his trips home.
He volunteered to go again, Dennis said. His dad asked him why. And he told his dad, If I dont do it, who will? I wish he didnt have that much courage, because maybe wed still have him here.
Bo knew from age 13 that hed join the Army. Right after his graduation from Greer High School in 2006, while other grads headed to Myrtle Beach, Bo was thinking about boot camp. He left for basic training 8 days after graduation.
Dennis, who served in the U.S. Air Force, told Bo to consider the Air Force instead.
I told him, If youre a Marine or in the Army, youre going to fight, Dennis said. And he said, Im going into the Army, and that was that. He loved his country and what America stands for.
Bo gave 100 percent to the military, his family says. He made time for family and friends when he came home, and in 2008, he came home for five days from a deployment to attend his grandfathers funeral. But even at home, he worried about his brothers still overseas.
He was up for promotion again, Dennis said. He had people under him, at 23 years old. It shows how fast he grew up as a man. He was fighting for people he didnt even know. He told me once, Its hard to stand up for these people they dont even want your help. The world is in turmoil, and he believed he was doing the right thing to fix that turmoil. And we have to accept it because Bo took a lot of pride in what he did. But it does break my heart. He was my hero way before all of this happened.
He was all our hero, said his younger brother, John, a senior at Greer High.
When Bo came home, he enjoyed hunting, fishing and playing video games. His grandmother said he grew up playing in the woods. He loved his family and friends, his neighbors and the Greer community.
Theres people who live 100 years and couldnt spread the joy and love he did in his 24 years, Chan Hicks said.
The family praises the love, respect and professionalism theyve received from the Army since Bos death. They plan to start a foundation to honor and remember Bo, and work with Wounded Warriors and Friends of the Fallen.
The family also extends its deepest sympathies to the family of Spc. Richardson, also killed in Fridays attack.
I hope people will say a little prayer for the other soldiers family, Dennis said. Say a prayer for his brothers still over there. I wish they all could come home tonight.
Arrangements have not been made for Bos funeral. But a Massachusetts man, the father of a soldier who served with Bo, wants to make an effort to attend.
Pete Fitzpatrick said his son, Sean, asked that he attend Bos funeral. Pete had the opportunity to meet Bo, and knew that Bo, Sean and the others in the unit grew close as they worked, played and fought together.
I dont know Bos family, but he seemed like the kind of guy youd be proud to have as a son, Pete Fitzpatrick said. Im happy to have had the opportunity to have met him. My son said he was the kind of guy that if you had to go into a fight, youd want him there with you. He was a young guy who had so much to offer, and now hes gone. You gotta ask yourself, what for?
Fitzpatrick recalled Bos quiet but confident demeanor.
Chan Hicks said that quiet side of his son would have made him shun the attention the family has gotten during the last few days.
He wouldnt have liked all the attention, Dennis said. But I want people not to forget him and what he stood for. A lot of people are going to miss him, for sure. Hell never be gone in spirit or in our hearts.