Thirteen U.S. service members were killed in a suicide bombing attack near Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport on Thursday as thousands sought to flee following the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan.
Among them were 11 Marines, according to the Pentagon, plus one Navy hospital corpsman and one Army soldier. At least 18 other U.S. service members were injured, and dozens of Afghans were also killed.
The Afghan victims included a news agency founder. British officials also said there were two citizens and the child of another citizen among the dead.
President Joe Biden commended the “bravery and sacrifice” of the U.S military Friday, calling the 13 deaths “tragic” but saying they died for a “worthy mission.”
Names and other details of the service members killed began to become public on Friday through family and friends:
- Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum, 20, Jackson, Wyoming
- Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jared Schmitz, 20, of Wentzville, Missouri
- Marine Corps Lance Cpl. David Espinoza, 20, of Laredo, Texas
- Navy Hospital Corpsman Max Soviak, of Berlin Heights, Ohio
- Marine Corps Cpl. Hunter Lopez, 22, of Riverside County, California
- Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Kareem Nikoui, 20, of Norco, California
- Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Taylor Hoover, 31, of Daggett County, Utah
- Marine Corps Cpl. Daegan William-Tyeler Page, 23, of Red Oak, Iowa
- U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss, 23, of Corryton, Tennessee
These are their stories. This list will be updated as more information becomes available.
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum
A Marine and expectant father from Wyoming, Rylee McCollum, was among the 13 American troops killed, Wyoming state officials said Friday.
“I’m devastated to learn Wyoming lost one of our own in yesterday’s terrorist attack in Kabul,” Gov. Mark Gordon said in a statement thanking McCollum for his service.
McCollum attended Jackson Hole High School and Summit Innovations School, graduating in 2019.
Roice McCollum, Rylee’s older sister, confirmed to the Casper Star-Tribune, Wyoming’s statewide newspaper, that McCollum was expecting a baby in three weeks.
“He wanted to be a Marine his whole life and carried around his rifle in his diapers and cowboy boots,” McCollum’s sister told the Star-Tribune. “He was determined to be in infantry… Rylee wanted to be a history teacher and a wrestling coach when he finished serving his country. He’s a tough, kind, loving kid who made an impact on everyone he met. His joke and wit brought so much joy.”
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jared Schmitz
A Marine from the St. Louis area was among the 13 American service members killed, according to the man’s father and a U.S. senator. Jared Schmitz of Wentzville, Missouri, was among the dead, his father, Mark Schmitz told the radio station KMOX.
“This has just been absolutely devastating,” Schmitz told the station Friday.
Schmitz told the station the U.S. Marine Corps came to his home to deliver “the horrific news” around 2:40 a.m. Friday.
U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley confirmed his death in a statement posted to Twitter.
“Today I spoke with the family of Lance Corporal Jared Schmitz, of Wentzville, Missouri, a Marine who lost his life yesterday in the Kabul attacks, while proudly serving this nation. I promised his family that his service and his legacy will not be forgotten,” Hawley wrote.
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. David Espinoza
A Texas Marine was among the 13 American troops and more than a hundred Afghans killed in Thursday’s suicide bombing in Afghanistan, local officials said Friday.
The City of Laredo identified David Lee Espinoza as one of the U.S. service members killed in the attack in the capital of Kabul.
“Thank you for your service to the United States of America and Laredo. Your acts of courage and bravery will always be remembered in our community,” the City of Laredo said in a statement.
Espinoza was born in Laredo but grew up in Rio Bravo, KGNS-TV reported. He attended Lyndon B. Johnson High School in Laredo.
Navy Hospital Corpsman Max Soviak
An Ohio Navy hospital corpsman, Max Soviak, is among the 13 killed, a school district confirmed Friday.
The Edison Local School District said Soviak, a 2017 graduate of Edison High School in Milan, was killed in the attack.
“It is with deepest sorrow that I am sharing this news,” Superintendent Thomas Roth said in a statement. “Max was a good student who was active in sports and other activities throughout his school career. He was well respected and liked by everyone who knew him. Max was full of life in everything he did.”
At Edison High School, Soviak was a member of the football team, wrestling team, tennis team, track team and band, Roth told USA TODAY. Before joining the Navy, he worked as a lifeguard and as a maintenance technician, The Sandusky Register reported.
Marine Corps Cpl. Hunter Lopez
A California Marine was among the 13 U.S. service members killed during a bomb attack near the international airport in Kabul on Thursday, according to the Riverside Sheriff’s Association.
Hunter Lopez was from a family with deep roots in the Coachella Valley. He is the son of two Riverside County Sheriff’s Department employees.
“We are heartbroken to hear this sad news about Hunter, who chose to follow a life of service, selflessness, courage and sacrifice, like his parents,” the news release reads.
The sheriff’s association said Lopez was a Riverside Sheriff’s Explorer Scout with the Palm Desert Station from Sept. 2014 to Aug. 2017. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines and was planning on joining the sheriff’s department when he returned from deployment, according to the release.
“Like his parents, Hunter wanted to help serve others and protect his community,” La Quinta Mayor Linda Evans said. “Our City Council and staff ask the community to join us in prayer and support for the Lopez family, as they navigate through this difficult time.”
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Kareem Nikoui
Friends and family are mourning the death of U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Kareem Mae’Lee Grant Nikoui, a California native who was one of 13 American service members killed Thursday in an explosion in Afghanistan.
In a statement, the city of Norco said Nikoui graduated from Norco High School in 2019 after joining JROTC, and then became a Marine.
Steve Nikoui told The Daily Beast that he is upset with President Joe Biden, and is trying to “respect the office,” although he supported former President Donald Trump.
“They sent my son over there as a paper pusher and then had the Taliban outside providing security,” Steve Nikoui told The Daily Beast. “I blame my own military leaders…. Biden turned his back on him. That’s it.”
In a statement, the Norco High School Air Force JROTC said Nikoui was “one of the best” of its 2019 graduates.
“Kareem was set on being a Marine & always wanted to serve his country. Kareem made the ultimate sacrifice for his country and his memory will live on forever,” the JROTC said in a statement.
Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Taylor Hoover
Taylor Hoover, a Marine Corps staff sergeant from Utah, was one of the service members killed in Kabul, Gov. Spencer Cox said in a statement Friday.
“Hoover served valiantly as a Marine and died serving his fellow countrymen as well as America’s allies in Afghanistan. We honor his tremendous bravery and commitment to his country, even as we condemn the senseless violence that resulted in his death,” Cox said.
Hoover’s father confirmed to Fox 13 in Salt Lake City that his son was among the dead.
“He did what he loved, was leading his men and was with them to the end,” his father, Darin Hoover, told Fox 13. “He loved these United States and proved it by his service. We are so heartbroken and feel for the families of his fallen brothers as well. Our condolences go out to them in this trying time.”
Hoover was a 2008 graduate of Hillcrest High School in Midvale, Utah, according to his social media page.
Marine Corps Cpl. Daegan William-Tyeler Page
The family of a 23-year-old Marine who grew up in southwest Iowa said Friday he was among 13 U.S. service members killed in the deadly bombing near the Kabul airport.
Cpl. Daegan William-Tyeler Page, 23, served in the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment based at Camp Pendleton, California.
“U.S. Marine Corps after graduating from Millard South High School. He loved the brotherhood of the Marines and was proud to serve as a member of the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California,” his family said in a statement, according to the Omaha-World Herald.
“Daegan’s girlfriend Jessica, his mom, dad, step-mom, step-dad, 4 siblings, and grandparents are all mourning the loss of a great son, grandson, and brother. Daegan was raised in Red Oak, Iowa and the Omaha metro area and was a longtime member of the Boy Scouts. He enjoyed playing hockey for Omaha Westside in the Omaha Hockey Club and was a diehard Chicago Blackhawks fan. He loved hunting and spending time outdoors with his dad, as well as being out on the water. He was also an animal lover with a soft spot in his heart for dogs,” the statement reads.
U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, who is also from Red Oak, Iowa, and served 23 years in the Army Reserve and the Army National Guard, tweeted condolences to Page’s family, friends and fellow servicemembers Friday evening, calling the news “heartbreaking.”
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss, 23, was among 13 American service members killed in Thursday’s suicide bombing attack.
Initial reports said the slain Americans were all Marines with the exception of a Navy corpsman, making the news of his death “quite a shock” to his family, his grandmother Evelena Knauss told The Daily Beast.
“We were led to think that it was 12 Marines and one Navy, and we knew our grandson was in the Army,” Knauss said. “So we were praying for the families of the Marines, not knowing our grandson was one of the ones who lost his life… You just don’t think it will be yours.”
Knauss had already served a nine-month deployment in Afghanistan. He grew up in Tennessee and joined the Army after graduating from Gibbs High School in Corryton, near Knoxville.
In a statement, U.S. Sen. Bill Hagerty of Tennessee described Knauss as a “brave, honorable, and heroic man – a Tennessee volunteer – who, with a servant’s heart, gave everything of himself at just 23 years old for his state and the country that he loved dearly.”
Contributing: The Associated Press
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