CLEVELAND (AP) — A soldier from Ohio was among two Army Rangers killed in a raid in Afghanistan who may have died as the result of friendly fire, the U.S military said Friday.
The Department of Defense statement said Sgt. Cameron Thomas, 23, of Kettering, in southwest Ohio, was killed in the raid Wednesday on an Islamic State compound in eastern Afghanistan. The military is investigating to see if he and the other soldier who died were accidentally killed by ground fire from Afghan commandos or other American forces.
Thomas’ younger sister remembered him Friday as someone who was committed to becoming an Army Ranger.
“He always had a sense of purpose about him,” Arran Thomas-Dunlavey, of Jacksonville, North Carolina, told The Associated Press. “He wanted to be the best, with the best.”
Thomas-Dunlavey, 22, commented while traveling to be with her family at their current home in Rixeyville, Virginia.
Thomas, who had early set his heart on joining the military, graduated in 2012 from Kettering Fairmont High School in Kettering, about 50 miles (81 kilometers) north of Cincinnati. He graduated early so he could enlist immediately, and had fulfilled his dream of becoming an Army Ranger before he was 20.
Thomas was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Fort Benning, Georgia, and was on his third deployment in Afghanistan.
“He just loved America, and believed in fighting for his beliefs,” high school friend Bill Manoussakis said in a phone interview from Kettering.
Manoussakis, 23, said news of Thomas’ death spread rapidly through Kettering, where friends knew him as an upbeat, positive person.
“He’s going to be missed by a lot of people,” Manoussakis said.
He said the last time he saw Thomas was this past summer when he came back to Kettering for a visit, and Manoussakis said he was grateful he had the chance to see him then.
Thomas-Dunlavey said her brother had a keen sense of humor that could send rooms full of people bursting into laughter.
She said the military informed the family that his death may have been the result of friendly fire.
Thomas-Dunlavey said she couldn’t imagine the “chaos” that the U.S. soldiers walked into that day, and has faith that the military will do a thorough investigation.