COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The mother of one of three Ohio soldiers killed in a suicide bombing in Afghanistan said on Friday he was a natural leader who belonged to a family of men who chose to serve their country by enlisting in the military.
Pamela Mitchell, of Dublin, said her son Capt. Nicholas Rozanski loved being a soldier for the National Guard. She said he had a passion for military service that was shared by one of his younger brothers, who was part of a Columbus-based Marine unit that lost almost two dozen of its members in 2005.
Rozanski was among three members of an Ohio-based National Guard unit killed in a Wednesday attack in Maimanah, the capital of Faryab province, the Department of Defense said. Also killed were Sgt. 1st Class Shawn Hannon, of Grove City, and Sgt. 1st Class Jeffrey Rieck, of Columbus. Four others were wounded.
Mitchell said Rozanski's younger brother Alex is a surviving member of the Lima Company, a reserve unit that lost 22 Marines and a Navy Corpsman in Iraq in 2005, including nine in one bombing. Fifteen of the 23 were from Ohio.
Mitchell said both her sons felt a strong connection to serving.
"They felt they had an obligation to their country," she said.
Nicholas, the oldest of her three sons, never expressed an interest in serving until the day he announced it to his family.
"We were totally surprised when he walked in one day and said, 'I joined the National Guard,'" she said. "I think you could have pushed us with a feather."
He enlisted in 2003 and deployed to Kosovo in 2004 and to Iraq in 2008.
"I think that Nick found his niche," she said. "He was an excellent officer, and he cared very deeply for his men. He was a natural leader."
Mitchell recalled a time in 2005 when Nick was leaving Kosovo to return to the United States. That day, Alex was flying into Iraq with the Lima Company.
"I honestly believe they passed each other somewhere over the ocean," she said. "It was such a coincidence."
Wednesday's attack, by a suicide bomber on a motorcycle, killed at least 13 people at a park in a relatively peaceful area of northern Afghanistan. It was part of an increase in violence at the start of the spring fighting season.