By W. Thomas Smith Jr.
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Richland County Sheriff’s Department (RCSD) Deputy and S.C. Army National Guard (SCARNG) officer Ryan Rawl will “never be forgotten,” says Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott. It’s a pledge that has been realized publicly every year since Ryan’s death in Afghanistan in 2012 through the RYAN RAWL MEMORIAL EVENT, this year a station-to-station running-and-exercise event based on the Crossfit model and various military-law-enforcement physical fitness regimens.
As in previous years, the 2018 Ryan Rawl Memorial Event was held on the S.C. State House grounds, in Columbia, July 4. The 8:00 a.m. (Eastern) event, today, was hosted and facilitated by RCSD with many RCSD deputies, law enforcement officers and first responders from other area-agencies, Columbia business leaders, and fitness enthusiasts participating.
“It’s a great kickoff to all Independence Day celebrations in the Midlands,” said Sheriff Lott, adding, “Ryan will never be forgotten; not as long as I’m sheriff.”
A former Lexington High School football player and wrestler who later graduated from The Citadel, Rawl began serving RCSD in 2005. In 2006, he also received his U.S. Army commission in the SCARNG.
On June 20, 2012, Rawl – a deployed 1st lieutenant serving with the SCARNG’s 133rd Military Police Company (temporarily detached from duties back home as an RCSD school resource officer) – and other soldiers were manning a security checkpoint at a crowded market in Khost, Afghanistan, near the Pakistan border, when both the checkpoint and market were attacked by a suicide bomber.
The ensuing blast killed Rawl and fellow soldiers Sgt. John David Meador II, also of Lexington (who served with the Lexington County Sheriff’s Dept.), and Sgt. 1st Class Matthew B. Thomas of Travelers Rest. Five other Americans were seriously wounded, and 21 Afghans were killed with scores more wounded.
As it was – and is – for all families, it was a devastating loss for the Rawls, whose matriarch, Mrs. Diane Rawl, feared “Ryan might one day be forgotten.”
Not so, says Lott, who directed that his department establish the first-ever Ryan Rawl Memorial Event. That event was held in 2013. And events since have included workout events – similar to the one held this year – as well as previous 5K Freedom Runs and a Kids Fun Run.
Among several sponsors of this year’s event, was the Jim Hudson Automotive Group, which donated $5,000 for the Ryan Rawl Scholarship Fund.
Event participants received a Ryan Rawl challenge coin, presented at the finish line by Mrs. Rawl, members of the Rawl family, and RCSD honor guard officers.
[Pictured L-R are Rawl’s parents, Stanley and Diane Rawl; Sheriff Lott; and Josh Waters, director of public relations for the Jim Hudson Automotive Group.]