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Raeford National Guard soldier who died Monday in Afghanistan also served in Iraq

RAEFORD -- The Raeford woman who died Monday with two other North Carolina Army National Guard members in Afghanistan had previously served in Iraq in 2007, officials said.

Sgt. Donna R. Johnson, 29, was deployed in Iraq from 2007 to 2008 after she joined the National Guard in 2006, guard spokesman Lt. Col. Robert Carver said Wednesday.

Johnson, along with Sgt. Jeremy F. Hardison, 23, of Browns Summit and Sgt. Thomas J. Butler IV, 25, of Leland, died Monday from wounds they suffered in a suicide bomber attack while on patrol in Khost City, Carver said. An insurgent walked up to the soldier's patrol and detonated the explosives on the vest he was wearing.

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All three were members of the National Guard's 514th Military Police Company based in Winterville. The unit left North Carolina for Fort Bliss, Texas in June and deployed to Afghanistan in early August.

"We are still grieving for these soldiers, their families and their unit members still carrying on with their mission," Maj. Gen. Gregory A. Lusk, adjutant general of North Carolina and commander of the North Carolina National Guard, said in a news release Wednesday. "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."

Johnson's awards and decorations include the Combat Action Badge, Iraq Campaign Medal and the Army Commendation Medal.

Hardison, who was married, entered the military in May 2006 and deployed to Iraq in 2009. Butler, a married father, joined in June 2007 and was on his first combat deployment.

The others who were killed in the attack were identified as an Afghan translator working with the American troops, four local police officers and six civilians. Three more American soldiers were wounded, a military spokesman said, and about 60 Afghan civilians were injured. A Taliban spokesman contacted Western media to claim responsibility shortly after the attack.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

dineenc@fayobserver.com

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