A Fort Carson soldier recalled by friends as a talented multisport athlete and doting big brother was killed Saturday in Ghazni, Afghanistan.

Staff Sgt. Joshua Bowden, 28, of Villa Rica, Ga., died of injuries sustained when his unit was attacked with small-arms fire while on patrol, the Department of Defense announced Sunday.

Bowden was an explosive ordnance disposal specialist assigned to the post's 242nd Ordnance Battalion, 71st Ordnance Group.

Bowden's former karate instructor, Samantha Hostettler, remembered Bowden as a smart student who earned his black belt at a young age and was protective of his sister.

"You know boys - sometimes they're not openly loving with their family," said Hostettler, owner of Champion Karate and Fitness in Douglasville, Ga. "But he just loved his sister. He took care of her."

Hostettler last saw Bowden this summer when he stopped by her studio, as he was apt to do when he was in town.

"We couldn't believe how much he'd grown up," she said. "It was a nice time. He reminisced with my other students and people he grew up with. We laughed about the old times. It was a good, good visit.

"Now, looking back, I'm really glad I had it."

Bowden's friend, Brandon Savage, recalled him as a dependable friend with a laid-back style.

"If you had something you needed to talk about, you could always talk to him, even if you hadn't seen him in forever," said Savage, who played soccer against Bowden when the two attended high school in Georgia.

The two last talked in the spring, shortly before Bowden deployed. Bowden had just returned to Georgia on vacation, but the two weren't able to meet up.

"He said, 'When I get back, for sure we'll do something,'" Savage recalled. "I guess plans have changed. He's going to be missed."

Bowden joined the Army in late 2005. He was on his second deployment. He previously deployed to Afghanistan from 2008-2009.

His awards include the Purple Heart, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal with Valor device, NATO Medal, Combat Action Badge, Parachute Badge, Air Assault Badge and Explosive Ordnance Disposal Badge.