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Guardsman killed while serving overseas

LAWRENCEVILLE - A Georgia National Guardsman based in Lawrenceville was killed Saturday while serving in Afghanistan.

First Sgt. John D. Blair, 38, died in Mado Zayi when his vehicle was struck with a rocket-propelled grenade, according to a U.S. Army press release. Blair, 38, was a native of Calhoun and a member of the First Battalion, 121st Infantry.

Maj. General Terry Nesbitt, Georgia's Adjutant General, described Blair as a senior enlisted leader with a true "follow-me spirit."

"He was a hero to the men he commanded and to the members of the 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team with whom he served," Nesbitt said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time."

Gov. Sonny Perdue issued a statement after learning of Blair's death.

"First Sgt. John Blair demonstrated courage and readiness to accept the same dangers that he asked of the soldiers under his command," Perdue said. "Georgia has lost a brave and courageous leader. As we saw around the state just days ago, Georgians rally around our citizen soldiers and their families, and I know that 1st Sgt. Blair and his family will receive the same kind of support. The touching tribute in Henry, Floyd and Hall counties with residents lining the streets to honor our fallen Guardsmen served as a visual reminder of how much these men and women mean to all of us."

Blair is the fourth Guardsman killed since the 48th Brigade began sending soldiers to help train Afghan police and security forces in May.