An Upstate soldier was killed this week while serving as a Army combat medic in Afghanistan.
Justin Whitmire, a 20-year-old Pickens native who graduated from Hillcrest High School, was killed earlier this week while on patrol in Afghanistan.
"The vehicle that they were in was hit by an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) and a dozen or more didn't make it," said Pastor Terry Rogers of Faith Renewed Outreach Center in Mauldin, where the Whitmire family attends church.
Rogers said the family does not know the exact circumstances of the incident as it remains under military investigation.
"We were made aware of this last night around 8 p.m. and it happened sometime on Monday or Tuesday," Rogers said.
Justin joined the army one year ago and was based at Fort Hood in Texas before his deployment. He had been in Afghanistan for less than three weeks, Rogers said.
Rogers said the family will be traveling to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Thursday for a military service. Funeral arrangements have not been made yet, but Rogers said he expects that will happen once the family returns to Simpsonville, where they currently live.
Rogers said he has known the family since Justin was a young boy. The family had lived for many years in Pickens and Easley and attended church at a church where Rogers worked as a youth pastor.
"I've known him since he was a young boy," Rogers said. "He had a smile that would light up the room. He'd do anything for anybody."
Rogers said the community has rallied to support the family during this time.
"We have a loving church and everyone in the community has reached out with love and support."
Dozens of friends and family members are sharing their thoughts and memories of Whitmire on Facebook.
"Continue to lift up the Whitmire Family in prayer. A very difficult time for all involved. They are thankful for your support and love," Rogers tweeted earlier in the day.