The commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan called on Thursday for a few thousand more troops in the country.
South Carolina has had a big presence in Afghanistan during nearly 16 years of war there. Forty-eight military members with ties to South Carolina died or were killed there.
Since 2001, the S.C. Army National Guard has mobilized more than 80 units for deployment to Afghanistan – more than 6,000 soldiers. The largest year was 2007, with more than 1,800 soldiers from the 218th Brigade Combat Team based at Camp Phoenix in Kabul.
It was the largest deployment of S.C. National Guard soldiers since World War II.
Eleven Guard members have been killed there, including three members of the 133rd Military Police Company on June 20, 2012. The soldiers killed in the suicide attack were 1st Lt. Ryan Davis Rawl, 30, of Lexington; Spc. John David Meador II, 36, of Columbia; and Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Bradford Thomas, 30, of Easley.
It was the Guard’s deadliest day since the Vietnam War.
The 20th Fighter Wing, based at Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter, has been deployed numerous times to Afghanistan through the years. One squadron is there now providing close air support for ground troops.
Capt. James M. Steel of the 77th Fighter Squadron was killed in 2013 when his F-16 crash when returning from a close air support mission.
U.S. Army Central, also known as Third Army, provides all the logistics – be it weapons, food or medical supplies – for ground troops fighting in both Southwest Asia and the Middle East. That includes the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.
It is headquartered at Shaw, with a forward operating base at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.
U.S. Air Force Central, which is responsible for logistics for Air Force units in the region, is also based at Shaw.
The S.C. Air National Guard has mobilized more than 500 airmen to Afghanistan, the most in 2012 when the 169th Fighter Wing with more than 400 airmen was based in Kandahar.
Troops with S.C. connections killed in Afghanistan
Marine Capt. Daniel McCollum, 29, of Irmo; Jan. 9, 2002, refueling plane crash in Pakistan while supporting the war effort
Air Force Staff Sgt. Jason Hicks, 25, of Jefferson; March 23, 2003, helicopter crash near Ghanzi
Army Staff Sgt. Tony B. Olaes, 30, of Walhalla; Sept. 20, 2004, in hostile action near Shkin, southeastern Afghanistan
S.C. National Guard Sgt. Stephen High, 45, of Spartanburg; April 6, 2005, helicopter crash in bad weather near Ghanzi
Army Maj. Edward Murphy, 36, of Mount Pleasant; April 6, 2005, helicopter crash in bad weather near Ghanzi
S.C. National Guard Spc. Chrystal Stout, 23, of Travelers Rest; April 6, 2005, helicopter crash in bad weather near Ghanzi
Army Reserve Sgt. Edward R. Heselton, 23, of Easley; Aug. 11, 2005, in Orgun-E, when ordnance exploded near the vehicle he was driving
Army Sgt. Michael R. Lehmiller, 23, of Anderson; Aug. 21, 2005, when a bomb exploded near his Humvee during patrol operations, near Baylough
S.C. Army National Guard Sgt. Edward O. Philpot, 38, of Latta; Oct. 23, 2007, in Humvee roll over near Tarin Kowt
S.C. National Guard Staff Sgt. James D. Bullard, 28, Marion; Oct. 30, 2007, in a firefight with insurgents, in Spearwan Ghar
Army Cpl. Joshua C. Blaney, 25, an N.C. resident and son of a Fort Mill woman; Dec. 12, 2007, at Forward Operating Base Curry after an improvised explosive device hit his vehicle
S.C. Army National Guard Sgt. Shawn F. Hill, 37, of Wellford; Jan. 2, 2008, when his vehicle hit a roadside bomb in Khowst Province
S.C. Army National Guard Spc. David Lee Leimbach, 38, of Taylors; May 25, 2008, after small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenade attack on his unit, near Bala Baluk
Army Capt. Richard G. Cliff Jr., 29, Mt. Pleasant; Sept. 29, 2008, in Yakhchal, when an improvised explosive device exploded near his vehicle
Army Pfc. Joshua Watson, 19, Many, La.; Feb. 10, 2009, roadside bomb, Camp Salerno. His mother, Cynthia, lives in Walterboro
Army Spc. Abraham S. Wheeler III, 22, Columbia; Aug. 28, 2009, roadside bomb, Logar province
Marine Lance Cpl. Christopher S. Fowlkes, 20, Gaffney; Sept. 3, 2009, from wounds suffered from land mine in Helmand province
Army Spec. Demetrius L. Void, 20, Orangeburg; Sept. 15, 2009, struck by military vehicle while performing physical training at camp in Kandahar
Lance Cpl. Jonathan Taylor, 22, Jacksonville; Dec. 1, 2009, supporting combat operations in Garmsir Province. He attended The Citadel
Army Pfc. Geoffrey A. Whitsitt, 21, of Taylors; Jan. 13, 2010, roadside bomb, Logar province
Army Pfc. David A. Jefferson, 23, Philadelphia, Pa.; July 2, 2010, roadside bomb, Kandahar, Afghanistan. His father lives in Columbia.
Army Sgt. 1st Class John H. Jarrell, 32, of Brunson; July 15, 2010, by an improvised explosive device in Kandahar
S.C. Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Willie J. Harley Jr., 48, of Aiken; Oct. 1, 2010, in Paktika province, Afghanistan, roadside bomb. Member of 1221 Engineer Clearance Company, with units based in Batesburg-Leesville and Graniteville
S.C. Army National Guard Spc. Luther W. Rabon Jr., 32, of Lexington (Red Bank); Oct. 1, 2010, in Paktika province, Afghanistan, roadside bomb. Member of 1221 Engineer Clearance Company , with units based in Batesburg-Leesville and Graniteville.
Air Force Senior Airman Andrew S. Bubacz, 23, of Dalzell; died Nov. 12, 2010, in Nuristan from injuries sustained while maintaining a communications tower at a forward operating base
Marine Lance Cpl. William H. Crouse IV, 22, of Woodruff; Dec. 21, 2010, in Helmand Province, while conducting combat opeartions. Member of 1st Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune, N.C.
Air Force Senior Airman Nicholas J. Alden, 25, of Iva; March 2, 2011, by gunman in Frankfurt, Germany while deploying to Afghanistan. Alden was assigned to the 48th Security Forces Squadron at RAF Lakenheath in England.
Army Pfc. Kalin Christopher Lee Johnson, 19, of Lexington; March 8, 2011, of injuries sustained in a non-combat incident. He was attached to U.S. Army 3rd Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, stationed in Vilseck, Germany.
Army Pvt. Cheizray Pressley, 21, of North Charleston; May 16, 2011, when insurgents attacked unit with IED in Zabul Province. He was assigned to the Brigade Troops Battalion, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Fort Wainwright, Anchorage, Alaska.
Army Sgt. Scotty Burgess, 32, Franklin, Texas, April 4, 2011, shot by Afghan man in uniform while standing guard in Maimana, northwest Afghanistan Burgess grew up in Franklin, Texas, but lived in Anderson County briefly as a child and has family there. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 84th Field Artillery Regiment, 170th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Baumholder, Germany
Army Sgt. 1st Class Alvin A. Boatwright, 33, Lodge; June 18, 2011, in Uruzgan province, Afghanistan, one of four soldiers who died of injuries suffered during a vehicle roll-over. The soldiers were assigned to the 4th Battalion, 70th Armor Regiment, 170th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Baumholder, Germany.
Marine Gunnery Sgt. Ralph E. Pate Jr., 29, Mullins; June 26, 2011, while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to 2nd Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company, 8th Engineer Support Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.
Staff Sgt. Thomas J. Dodds Dudley, 29, Tega Cay; July 7, 2011, while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistant. He was assigned to Marine Air Group 26, 2nd Marine Air Wing, 11 Marine Expeditionary Force, Marine Corps Air Station New River, Jacksonville, N.C.
James W. Coker, 59, of Mount Pleasant, Sept. 5 in Kabul, while on temporary assignment with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Coker worked for Naval Facilities Engineering Command Atlantic, Norfolk, Va. The circumstances surrounding his death were under investigation.
Army Sgt. 1st Class Johnathan B. McCain, 38, of Apache Junction, Az.; died Nov. 13 of injuries suffered when his patrol was struck by a roadside bomb in Kandahar province. He is the son of Sharon Kay Gainey of Florence.
Pfc. Justin M. Whitmire, 20, of Easley died after a Dec. 27 attack in Paktia, Afghanistan when enemy forces attacked their unit with an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 720th Military Police Battalion, 89th Military Police Brigade, Fort Hood, Texas.
Spc. John David Meador II, 36, of Columbia died June 20 when a suicide bomber attacked his patrol at a checkpoint in Khost. He was assigned to the S.C. National Guard’s 133rd Military Police Company, Timmonsville.
1st Lt. Ryan Davis Rawl, 30, of Lexington died June 20 when a suicide bomber attacked his patrol at a checkpoint in Khost. He was assigned to the S.C. National Guard’s 133rd Military Police Company, Timmonsville.
Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Bradford Thomas, 30, of Easley died June 20 when a suicide bomber attacked his patrol at a checkpoint in Khost. He was assigned to the S.C. National Guard’s 133rd Military Police Company, Timmonsville.
Army Pfc. Adam Ross, 19, of Lyman was shot and killed in an ambush while on foot patrol July 24 in Afghanistan. Ross, a member of the 173rd Airborne Infantry, was stationed in Vicenza, Italy, and had been in Afghanistan for less than three weeks when he was killed.
Air Force Maj. Walter D. Gray, 38, a 2001 graduate of Charleston Southern University, died Aug. 15 from injuries suffered during a suicide bomb attack in Kunar province, Afghanistan. Gray was an air liaison officer and flight commander attached to Fort Carson, Colo., through the 93rd Air Ground Operations Wing at Moody Air Force Base in Georgia
Sgt. Channing B. Hicks, 24, of Greer, was killed Nov. 16 with another soldier in Paktika Province, Afghanistan, from injuries sustained during an attack from enemy forces using an improvided explosive device and small arms fire. The soldiers were in the 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, at Fort Riley, Kan.
Inez Baker, 51, civilian contractor and Army veterans, was killed March 8 in northeastern Afghanistan when three men dressed in Afghan National Guard uniforms opened fire on U.S. troops. Baker had served six tours in Iraq and Afghanistan as an active duty soldier.
Chief Warrant Officer Curtis S. Reagan, 43, of Summerville, died March 29 from an illness that was not related to combat. Reagan was assigned to the 603rd Aviation Support Battalion, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division. He was based at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah.
Capt. James Michael Steel, 29, of Tampa, Fla., died April 3 when his F-16 crashed near Bagram Airfield while returning to base from a close air support mission. Steel was assigned to the 77th Fighter Squadron, 20th Fighter Wing, known as the Gamblers, based at Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter.
Pfc. Barrett L. Austin, 20, of Easley died April 21 in a hospital in Germany after being wounded in Afghanistan. On April 17 his vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb in Wardak Province. He was assigned to the 4th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, at Fort Stewart, Ga.
Spc. Ember M. Alt, 21, of Beech Island was killed June 18 in Bagram, Afghanistan. Alt was a member of the 68th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 43rd Sustainment Brigade, 4th Infantry Division based at Fort Carson, Colo. She was killed with three others when their unit was attacked with indirect fire.
Capt. James Edward "Ed" Chaffin, 27, of West Columbia, died March 31 in Kandahar in a non-combat related incident. Chaffin, a graduate from the U.S. Military Academy, was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 319th Field Artillery Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C.