Loved ones in Haw River believe Rainey probably put himself in harm's way to save another comrade, given what they describe as his selfless character.
They also feared the worst when they first learned about the attack on U.S. soldiers.
"I just had a bad feeling; I felt like something was wrong," church friend Jeff Terrell said.
Terrell watched the news from home --nine soldiers killed near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border-- knowing 22-year-old Rainey was likely in harm's way.
"I told my wife --I started to cry-- I said that's exactly where he's at. I said we gotta pray for him," Terrell said.
Terrell met Rainey as a young teen within Glen Hope Baptist Church's youth ministry.
"He called me dad and I called him son and it was really tough to see him go off to war in the first place, but I knew God had a purpose for him," he said.
The Graham High graduate and star wrestler enlisted in the army two years ago to help pay for college.
"I always had the thought, but I never, ever thought Pruitt wouldn't come home," church friend Patti Allred said.
Allred says Sunday Rainey's grandmother who raised him got the news from Army chaplains. Three days later the entire Haw River community continues grieving.
"Everybody in the church, just all ages cause he just really, really was the kind of person that just connected with everybody," Glen Hope Baptist Church Pastor Larry Redding said.
"That's one of the things I'll miss the most is his big bear hugs, and kisses, he wasn't afraid to hug."
Corporal Rainey was scheduled to return home next month and discharge from the army the end of this year. Plans for his funeral are pending.