Local soldier killed

PFC Barrett Austin dies in German

hospital after IED attack in Afghanistan

By Nicole Daughhetee

Courier Staff

COUNTY — Another Pickens County soldier has paid the ultimate price for his country.

Private First Class Barrett L. Austin of Easley died in a German hospital on Sunday, with his wife Heather and parents Curtis and Yolanda Austin at his bedside.

Austin, 20, was wounded in Afghanistan on April 17 when his vehicle ran over an IED in Wardak Province, according to a release from the U.S. Department of Defense. Three others in the vehicle were wounded.

Friends of the Austin family have said that Austin, who was a member of the 4th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, based in Fort Stewart, Ga., wanted to join the army as a way to follow in the footsteps of his grandfathers who served before him.

Prior to his service in the U.S. Army, Austin attended Dacusville Middle and Pickens High School. The American Flag at PHS is being flown at half-staff in honor of Austin’s service to his country.

Pickens High principal Marion Lawson called Austin “a true hero.”

“There is no greater love a man can have than to give his life for a brother or a friend, and that is what we see with Barrett Austin,” Lawson said.

Austin is the second soldier from Easley killed in Afghanistan. Sergeant 1st Class Matthew Bradford Thomas, 30, of Easley, died June 20, 2012, when a suicide bomber attacked his patrol at a checkpoint in Khost. He was assigned to the S.C. National Guard’s 133rd Military Police Company.

“Bows for Barrett,” a Facebook page created in Austin’s honor, asks members of the local community to support Austin and his family by hanging yellow bows from their homes or mailboxes. Dozens of homes around the county have shown their support with the bows, and many friends and neighbors lined the streets as Austin’s family returned home Monday night.

During Monday night’s School district of Pickens County board meeting, Dacusville-area trustee Jim Shelton shared with those in attendance that Austin was not simply a face in the crowd, but someone Shelton knew well.

“He was a young man that has been in my home many times,” Shelton said. “Quite frankly it has bothered and affected me since I got the news.

“Barrett met a violent end in service for our country, and we thank and praise him for that. I wanted to make sure this board recognized him for this.”

Austin’s remains are expected to return home Wednesday, and funeral arrangements have yet to be announced.

“Everybody in America should strive to be like him,” neighbor and friend Austin Lanier said of Austin. “He wanted to fight for everybody.”