Pentagon Releases Names of 13 U.S. Service Members Who Lost Their Lives in Afghanistan Terrorist Attack

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Posted: Aug 28, 2021 11:30 PM

The Pentagon on Saturday released the names of the 13 U.S. service members who lost their lives during Thursday's terrorist attack at the Kabul airport. It was the deadliest attack for the U.S. military in Afghanistan since 2011.

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

Known by many as Taylor, he served in the Marines for 11 years. He was a son, a brother, a boyfriend, and someone who loved his family. His father, Darin Hoover, spoke to The Washington Post, calling his son "a hero. He gave his life protecting those that can’t protect themselves, doing what he loved serving his country."

Hoover also shared how he heard from fellow Marines who shared their experiences with his son as their sergeant. "They look back on him and say that they’ve learned so much from him," Hoover told the outlet, saying he was also "One heck of a leader."

Gov. Spencer Cox (R-UT) has ordered flags at state facilities and public grounds in Utah to be flown at half-staff through Monday. 

Marine Corps Sgt. Johanny Rosariopichardo, 25, of Lawrence, Massachusetts

Reporting from The New York Post on the thirteen service members notes that Rosario was honored in May by her unit, the the Naval Amphibious Force, Task Force 51/5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade. The brigade's aided in evacuations from the airport. 

Kendrys Vasquez, the mayor of Lawrence, said he had been in touch with her family "to extend mine and my family’s most sincere condolences and offer all of the aid that my administration can provide as they grieve this great loss." The mayor also indicated that at "this time, the family’s most immediate wish is to be given privacy and that their loved one be recognized as the hero that she was."

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

Gee was one of the service members comforting an infant in a tweet shared by the Department of Defense earlier this month. 

Gee shared that photo of her holding the infant on her Instagram page, with the caption "I love my job."

Stars and Stripes reported that Gee "had been pictured in photos of the evacuation holding an Afghan baby and escorting girls to a waiting military aircraft." The report also mentioned a Facebook post from Capt. Karen Holliday. "She had a name. She was doing God’s work…..a warrior," the post said. "Searching Afghan women and children trying to get out of country."

Marine Corps Cpl. Hunter Lopez, 22, of Indio, California

Kitty Alvarado for NBC Palm Springs has a particularly touching thread about Lopez on Twitter after speaking with the young man's mother.

Lopez planned to follow in his family's footsteps and become a sheriff's deputy.

CBS 2 reported on a statement from the Riverside Sheriff's Association, which in part read:

Hunter was the victim of vicious evil and was killed because he wore a United States Marnie uniform with love and pride. Our entire community feels the anguish, and we mourn the death of Hunter, who answered the call to serve, defend and protect our nation. Like his parents who serve our community, being a Marine to Hunter wasn’t a job; it was a calling. He loved his family, and as we grieve for Hunter and his fellow Marines taken from us too soon, there are simply no words to express how deeply he will be missed — Semper Fi.

The Lopez family requests that all donations be made to the Riverside County Deputy Sheriff Relief Foundation in the name of the Lopez Family. The address is 21810 Cactus Avenue, Riverside, CA 92518. The Lopez family respectfully requests privacy during this incredibly difficult time. The family will share details and plans for the celebration of Hunter’s life at a later date.

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

The Omaha World-Herald also included touching tributes for Page, such as from his high school, Millard South High School, which said he had been "a wonderful example of the Patriot Way" and expressed that "We are grateful for his service to our country. Our hearts and prayers go out to his family."

The report also noted that Page's unit had been deployed and arrived at Hamid Karzai International Airport about two weeks ago, as part of a contingent to aid in evacuations.

Page’s unit had already been deployed to the Middle East as a quick-reaction force. They landed at Hamid Karzai International Airport about two weeks ago.

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

Local politicians paid tribute to Sanchez over social media, as did friends.

Stars and Stripes also reported that Fatima Magnison mentioned her husband was best friends with Sanchez, and that she called him 'Bert.' Of the four fallen Marines, Magnison said they "were too sweet...to be gone so soon." She also said "I can’t believe it," and that "My heart is heavy today and every day on."

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

Espinoza was from Laredo and lived in Rio Bravo for his whole life. His mother, Elizabeth Holguin, spoke to the Laredo Morning Times about her son. "He was my hero," she said. "He was just brave enough to go do what he wanted and to help out people. That’s who he was, he was just perfect."

Gov. Greg Abbott and Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz ordered flags to be flown half-staff.

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

Schmitz was deployed to Afghanistan from Jordan as part of his first deployment. His father, Mark Scmitz, told KMOX that his son always wanted to be a soldier. "His life meant so much more," Schmitz said about his son. I’m so incredibly devastated that I won’t be able to see the man that he was very quickly growing into becoming."

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

The expectant father's wife, Gigi whom he married in April, is pregnant with a baby due in mid-September. They had kept the sex a surprise. 

McCollum joined the Marines on his 18th birthday and was deployed to Afghanistan from Jordan two weeks ago.

As Cheyenne, his sister, shared with EastIdahoNews.com: 

“He was a kid that touched everybody’s heart. He was a wrestler since he was 4. He knew he was going to be a Marine since he was about that same age. He used to walk around in just a diaper and in his sister’s pink princess boots carrying his toy rifle and play like he was in the Army or a Marine,” Cheyenne said. 

...

“He signed papers on his 18th birthday and called my dad and was like, ‘Oh, Dad, I need you to come sign this for me. I’m enlisting,’ and he’s like, ‘Oh wait, it’s my birthday, I don’t need your signature anymore!’ And we couldn’t have been more proud of him because he was doing what he needed to do and what he wanted to do,” she said.

...

“He was going to be the best dad. We don’t know (the gender of the baby). They decided to keep it a surprise. We hope it’s a boy. I had a baby in 2019, and he just loved her so much,” Cheyenne said.

A Go Fund Me page has been set up to support McCollum's child.

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

Merola had been deployed just over a week before he was killed. 

His mother, Cheryl Merola spoke to CBS 2 and shared how how her son planned to go to college for engineering. "He was one of the best kids ever," she also said. "Kind. Loving. Giving to every single person. He would give anything for anybody."

Dylan's final text message to his mother was "I love you and I'll talk to you soon."

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

In addition to calling out President Biden for how he "turned his back on" his son, Kareem Nikoui's father, Steve Nikoui shared some particularly touching parts about his son with The Daily Beast:

Kareem “loved what he was doing, he always wanted to be a Marine,” said Nikoui, noting that his son had been stationed close to home, at Camp Pendleton. This made it easy for Kareem to visit on weekends, and he often brought along “10 or 15 other Marines” with him. When the holidays rolled around, Kareem always brought a few buddies with him for a home-cooked meal, according to Nikoui.

“My wife and I felt very honored that [since] these other boys weren’t around their homes, that we were able to provide some sort of family life for them,” he said. “He really loved that [Marine Corps] family. He was devoted—he was going to make a career out of this, and he wanted to go. No hesitation for him to be called to duty.”

The New York Post also reported that the day before he was killed, Kareem had sent his dad a video of him with Afghan children at the Kabul Airport. Steve Nikoui said on Friday that the clip helped put him and his wife "at ease to where we felt like, he’s all right."

As CBS 2 reported:

The city said Nikoui’s name will be enshrined on the “Lest We Forget Wall” at the George A. Ingalls Veterans Memorial Plaza, which honors Norconians who made the ultimate sacrifice.

A Gold Star Families Memorial Monument is currently being constructed by a local man who is related to Nikoui.

“He is the cousin of the boy that was killed,” said Norco Mayor Kevin Bash. “He realizes he’s building this for himself. This is what we do in Norco. This is the kind of community we are.”

Navy Hospitalman Maxton W. Soviak, 22, of Berlin Heights, Ohio

The Sandusky Register reported that Soviak was one of the service members who lost their lives. 

An Instagram post from someone who The New York Post reported is Marilyn Soviak, Maxton's older sister, includes a slideshow of photos from the two of them growing up.

The caption read:

I’ve never been one for politics and i’m not going to start now. What I will say is that my beautiful, intelligent, beat-to-the-sound of his own drum, annoying, charming baby brother was killed yesterday helping to save lives. he was a f**king medic. there to help people. and now he is gone and my family will never be the same. there is a large Maxton sized hole that will never be filled. he was just a kid. we are sending kids over there to die. kids with families that now have holes just like ours. i’m not one for praying but damn could those kids over there use some right now. my heart is in pieces and I don’t think they’ll ever fit back right again.

On his own Instagram, Soviak called himself a "Patriot" and a "Corpsman."

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

His grandfather, Wayne Knauss, shared a touching sentiment with WATE that Ryan "grew up in a Christian home, attended Berean Christian school through eighth grade and spent, four years at Gibbs High." He also called him a "motivated young man who loved his country. He was a believer so we will see him again in God’s heaven."

These men and women were no older than 31. Not only was 20 the youngest age, it was the most common age of those who were killed. They would have been just babies on September 11, 2001.

Buzz Patterson, who is running for Congress in California's 7th district, tweeted that when the service members arrived in Dover, nobody from the Biden White House was present to meet them.

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