- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 22, 2015

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) - A Georgia airman who played football in high school and college before joining the military was among six American service members killed in a suicide bombing in Afghanistan, his family confirmed Tuesday.

Staff Sgt. Chester McBride Jr., 30, of Statesboro died in the Monday attack near Bagram Airfield, his father, Chester McBride Sr., told The Associated Press in a brief phone interview. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the Monday bombing, which was the deadliest attack on American troops in Afghanistan since 2013.

He was assigned to the Air Force Office of Special Investigations at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama.

The younger McBride was a football standout at Statesboro High School, where he played defensive back on the team that won a 2001 state championship. An uncle, Kenneth McBride, said his nephew also played football at Savannah State University before he joined the military.

He said they often hit the gym to lift weights together when his nephew would come home on leave.

“He was real strong and had just a great positive attitude about what he was doing,” Kenneth McBride said. “He loved the military.”

McBride and five other service members died Monday when a suicide bomber drove a motorcycle laden with explosives into a joint NATO-Afghan patrol near Kabul. The U.S. Department of Defense on Tuesday released the identities of those killed in the attack. Two other Americans and an Afghan were also wounded.

Ken LeCain, principal of Statesboro High School, said McBride kept in touch after graduating in 2003. In a statement posted on the school’s Facebook page, LeCain said McBride had visited the school while he was home on leave in October and spoke with athletes.

“I will always remember him as a young man of high character with a great smile,” the principal said.

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