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Remembering the service members killed in the Kabul bomb attack

The last U.S. military plane, a C-17, departed Hamid Karzai International Airport in Afghanistan on Monday night, August 30, 2021, officially ending the longest war in U.S. history while Taliban fighters celebrated driving out the world’s most powerful military from one of the world’s poorest countries.

It is estimated that the U.S. had spent more than $2 trillion during the course of the war in Afghanistan and approximately 800,000 U.S. service men and women served. More than 124,00 Afghan and other civilians were successfully airlifted during the withdrawal in what would become the largest air evacuation in U.S. history.

The Taliban, who governed the country under a radical interpretation of Islamic law from 1996 to 2001, now control all of Afghanistan. However, just days before, on August 26, 2021, 13 United Stated service members — 11 Marines, one Navy corpsman, and one Army staff sergeant — were killed in a suicide attack at the Abbey Gate of Kabul’s Karzai International Airport that also claimed more than 160 Afghan lives. Another 15 U.S. service members and 143 Afghans were wounded.

Biden: ‘We Will Hunt You Down And Make You Pay’ for the Kabul airport bomb attack.

In a Patagon investigation released in February, six months after the botch U.S. withdrawal, found that a lone Islamic State suicide bomber named as Abdul Rahman Al-Logari carried out the attack. He was an engineering student, known by intelligence agencies, and is said to have been let out of a high-security prison after the Taliban seized control of Kabul on August 15, just two weeks before the bombing.

In statement released on August 31 by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, all military units involved in the withdrawal and evacuation missions from Afghanistan last year will be awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation. This would also include units involved in the resettlement of Afghan allies in the U.S. as part of Operation Allies Refuge and Operation Allies Welcome.

Below are the heroes who died in the line of duty evacuating thousands of Americans and Afghans after the disastrous U.S. withdrawal led to the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. In October 2021, the House of Representatives unanimously approved posthumous Congressional Gold Medals for all of these services members who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Navy Corpsman Maxton “Max” W. Soviak, 22, of Berlin Heights, Ohio

Soviak was assigned to 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton, California. A GoFundMe page started by family friend Jason Garza had raised more than $54,000 as of Saturday night.

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Marine Corps Lance Corporal Kareem M. Nikoui, 20, of Norco, California

Nikoui was stationed Camp Pendleton. Steve Nikoui, Kareem’s father, is critical of the execution of the US evacuation.

“I’m really disappointed in the way that the president has handled this, even more so the way the military has handled it,” the elder Nikoui told the Daily Beast in an interview. “The commanders on the ground should have recognized this threat and addressed it.”

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Marine Corps Lance Corporal Jared M. Schmitz, 20, of St. Charles, Missouri

Schmitz was on his first deployment and was sent to Afghanistan from Jordan.

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Marine Corps Sergeant Nicole L. Gee, 23, of Sacramento, California

Gee, a maintenance technician with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, assisted women and girls at Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport as they fled Taliban repression.

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Marine Corps Lance Corporal Dylan R. Merola, 20, of Rancho Cucamonga, California

Merola arrived in Kabul less than two weeks before he was killed in Thursday’s attack. A GoFundMe campaign has been organized to assist Merola’s family.

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Marine Corps Corporal Humberto A. Sanchez, 22, of Logansport, Indiana

Indiana Rep. Jim Baird identified Sanchez in social media posts, writing that the Marine, a 2017 graduate of Logansport High School, “bravely answered the call to serve his nation.”

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Marine Corps Sergeant Johanny Rosario Pichardo, 25, of Lawrence, Massachusetts

Rosario was a member of the US Marine Corps’ Female Engagement Team. In May, she was honored by her unit, the Naval Amphibious Force, Task Force 51/5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, for successfully completing and submitting the Dormant Accounts Review Quarterly (DAR-Q) to HQMC in a timely manner that allows the Marine Corps to meet the Department of Defense’s goal of passing a full financial audit.

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Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Darin T. Hoover Jr., 31, of Salt Lake City, Utah

Hoover, of Utah, had been in the Marines for 11 years. He was a former high school football lineman who “lit up a room” when he entered, his father told The Washington Post.

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Marine Corps Lance Corporal David L. Espinoza, 20, of Rio Bravo, Texas

Espinoza graduated from Lyndon B. Johnson High School in Laredo and lived in Rio Bravo. Espinoza leaves behind a brother, mother and stepfather, News 4 San Antonio reported.

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Marine Corps Lance Corporal Rylee J. McCollum, 20, of Jackson, Wyoming

McCollum was expecting to become a father before deploying to Afghanistan in April. This was his first deployment and manning the check point when the suicide bomb went off.

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Army Staff Sergeant Ryan C. Knauss, 23, of Corryton, Tennessee

Knauss recently completed Psychology Operations training and was hoping to move to Washington, DC before being deployed to Afghanistan.

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Marine Corps Corporal Daegan W. Page, 23, of Omaha, Nebraska

Page, joined the Marines out of high school, served with the 2nd Regiment of the 1st Marine Regiment, a unit known as “The Professionals” based at Camp Pendleton, California. He planned to go to trade school and possibly become a lineman after his enlistment ended.

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Marine Corps Corporal Hunter Lopez, 22, of Indio, California

Lopez, whose parents work at the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in Southern California, was a sheriff’s Explorer for three years before joining the Marine Corps in September 2017. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines. The family asked for all donations to be made to the Riverside County Deputy Sheriff Relief Foundation.

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A Botch Evacuation

After the suicide bomb attack at the Kabul airport on August 26, Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller released a now-viral video where he criticized Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David H. Berger, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley for the botch evacuation effort from Kabul.

In his video, Scheller stated that the U.S. should never have abandoned its Bagram airbase and said that “the baby boomer’s turn is over.”

One thought on “Remembering the service members killed in the Kabul bomb attack

  • This is an awesome tribute for a tragic historical event. Thanks for doing it Lynwood Times!


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