Sgt. Thomas Butler of Wilmington, NC
Sgt. Jeremy Hardison with his wife, Brittni Hardison. Courtesy Hardison family.
Sgt. Jeremy Hardison, Browns Summit, NC
Sgt. Donna Johnson of Raeford, NC
Greensboro, NC-- The Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations Public Affairs office has announced the names of three fallen soldiers from North Carolina.
Sgt. Jeremy F. Hardison from Maysville, NC, Sgt. Donna R. Johnson from Raeford, NC, and Sgt. Thomas J. Butler from Wilmington, NC, were killed in an attack in Afghanistan on Monday.
Jeremy Hardison was living in Browns Summit before being deployed to Afghanistan. His wife, Brittni Hardison is a Greensboro native. They were living in Browns Summit with Brittni's daughter.
Jeremy was 23-years old. He became a husband and stepfather this past April. He was deployed to Afghanistan six weeks ago. Now he's a fallen soldier leaving behind Brittni Hardison, a 23-year-old widow.
News 2's Liz Crawford talked to Jeremy Hardison's family Tuesday.
"Jeremy was a good man. He loved his country. He loved his family," said Beth Vaughn, Brittni's stepmother.
Brittni and her father traveled to Dover, DE to receive her husband's body Tuesday morning. Brittni's family is coping together back in North Carolina, waiting for Brittni's return.
"He loved Brittni. They had a true love, and he just accepted Alyssa even though it wasn't his daughter," said Brittni's sister, Heather Allen.
Jeremy was only expected to be overseas for nine months. The family's only connection came through Facebook, Skype, and phone calls.
Vaughn said, "We would see him on Facebook. Brittni was talking to him so I didn't think it was that dangerous and I think that's hitting home."
Now the family is coping with the fact that their soldier is never coming home, turning to Brittni as their source of strength.
Allen said, "She talks about how she feels like he's here, like he's guiding her into what she should do next."
The North Carolina National Guard announced on their Facebook page Tuesday that there had been an incident in Afghanistan involving their soldiers.
This statement appeared today on the North Carolina National Guard's Facebook page:
"There has been an incident in Afghanistan involving NCNG soldiers. If you have not been notified your soldier was involved then your soldier was not."
The Department of Defense notifies the families and then has a 24-hour waiting period before releasing the names publicly.
Wednesday the National Guard release more details on the incident: Three members of the North Carolina Army National Guard's 514th Military Police Company based in Winterville, N.C., died as a result of wounds sustained in a suicide bomber attack while on patrol in Afghanistan, on Monday, Oct. 1, 2012. Three others were injured.
Killed were: Sgt. Donna R. Johnson, 29, of Raeford, N.C., Sgt. Jeremy F. Hardison, 23, of Browns Summit, N.C., and Sgt. Thomas J. Butler IV, 25, of Leland, N.C.
"We are still grieving for these Soldiers, their families and their unit members still carrying on with their mission," said Maj. Gen. Gregory A. Lusk, adjutant general of North Carolina and commander of the nearly 12,000 men and women of the North Carolina National Guard. "They were the embodiment of citizen Soldiers who put everything on hold to go in harm's way for all of us. They will be remembered and sorely missed."
The incident that took their lives occurred at approximately 9 a.m. local time in Khost City, Afghanistan, when an insurgent on foot approached the Soldiers' patrol and detonated a suicide vest.
Sgt. Johnson joined the North Carolina National Guard in August 2006. She had previously deployed to Iraq from 2007 to 2008. Her awards and decorations included the Combat Action Badge, Iraq Campaign Medal and Army Commendation Medal.
Sgt. Hardison entered the military in May of 2006. Also a veteran of service in Iraq, he had deployed there in 2009. His awards and decorations included the Combat Action Badge, Iraq Campaign Medal with a campaign star and the Army Commendation Medal.
Sgt. Butler began his military service in June of 2007. The deployment to Afghanistan was his first. His awards and decorations included the National Defense Service Medal and the Army Service Ribbon.
The names of the injured will not be released. There are no medical condition reports available at this time. The unit left North Carolina for Fort Bliss, Texas, in June and departed for Afghanistan in early August with the unit fully in place there by the end of the month.
Funeral arrangements for the three fallen Soldiers are incomplete. The families have requested that members of the media respect their privacy as they go through this difficult time.
WFMY News 2