Some identities of soldiers killed in Afghanistan revealed
WASHINGTON (AP) – A young husband with a child on the way. Another man who always wanted to be in the military. A man who planned to become a sheriff’s deputy when his deployment ended. Heartbreaking details began to emerge on Friday about some of the 13 US soldiers killed in a horrific suicide bombing at Kabul airport in Afghanistan, which also claimed the lives of more than 160 Afghans.
Eleven Marines, a Navy sailor and an Army soldier were among the dead, while 18 other US servicemen were injured in Thursday’s bombing, attributed to the Afghan branch of the Islamic State group. The United States said it was the deadliest day for U.S. forces in Afghanistan since 2011. The White House said President Joe Biden will seek opportunities to honor service members who have lost their lives, many of whom were men in their early twenties.
Here are the stories of some of the victims and the people who mourn them:
RYLEE McCOLLUM, 20
Rylee McCollum, a sailor from Bondurant, Wyoming, was married and his wife is expecting a baby in three weeks, his sister, Cheyenne McCollum said.
“He was so excited to be a dad, and he was going to be a great dad,” McCollum said. She said her brother “was a Marine before he knew he was allowed to be a Marine… He carried his toy gun and wore his sister’s pink princess snow boots and he hunted or he was a Marine. Sometimes it would be without anything underneath, just a t-shirt.
McCollum said his brother wanted to be a history teacher and wrestling coach after he finished his service. Another sister, Roice McCollum, told the Casper Star Tribune that her brother was on his first deployment when the evacuation in Afghanistan began.
“We want to make sure people know that it is the children who sacrifice themselves, and that he has a family that loves him and a wife who loves him and a baby he can never meet,” said Cheyenne McCollum.
Regi Stone, the father of one of Rylee McCollum’s friends, described McCollum as “a good kid” who was resilient, intelligent and courageous. Stone shared a note his wife, Kim, sent to their son Eli Stone, who is also in the military and deployed elsewhere. In the note, Kim wrote that she remembered telling the friends to run the other way if they had to get in first and they both said, “If we die doing this, we will die. doing what we love. “
KAREEM MAE’LEE GRANT NIKOUI, 20 years old
Lance Corporal Kareem Mae’Lee Grant Nikoui, of Norco, Calif., Sent videos to his family hours before his death, showing himself interacting with children in Afghanistan. In one of the clips, he asked a young boy to say hello to him.
“Do you want to make a video together, buddy?” Nikoui said, leaning in to take a video of himself with the boy. “Alright, we’re heroes now, man.”
Close family friend Paul Arreola said the videos showed “the heart of this young man, the love he has”.
“The family is heartbroken,” he said. Arreola described Nikoui as an “incredible young man” full of promise who always wanted to be a sailor and set out to achieve his goal. He is survived by his parents and his three siblings.
“He loved this country and everything we stand for. It’s so hard to know we lost him, ”he said, crying.
Nikoui was also in the JROTC, and Norco High School Air Force JROTC posted on Facebook that he was “one of our top Air Force Cadets JROTC” and that “Kareem was determined to be a Marine and has always wanted to serve his country “.
The city of Norco said in a social media post on Friday that Nikoui’s name would be inscribed on a commemorative wall in the city.
JARED SCHMITZ, 20 years old
Marine Lance Corporal Jared Schmitz grew up in the St. Louis area and was part of a group of Marines returned to Afghanistan to help with the evacuation efforts, his father, Mark Schmitz, told KMOX radio.
Mark Schmitz said his son had always wanted to be a Marine. He said he learned of his son’s death when the Marines visited his home in Wentzville, Missouri, at 2:40 a.m. Friday.
“It’s something he always wanted to do, and I’ve never seen a young man train as hard as him to be the best soldier he can be,” Schmitz said of his son. “Her life meant so much more. I am so incredibly devastated that I will not be able to see the man he has become very quickly.
TAYLOR HOOVER, 31 years old
Staff Sgt. Taylor Hoover, of Utah, had been in the Marines for 11 years and a hero is remembered who died in the service of others, his father Darin Hoover said.
“He’s a hero. He gave his life protecting those who cannot protect themselves, doing what he loved to serve his country, ”said Darin Hoover, who lives in a suburb of Salt Lake City.
He said he heard from Marines throughout the day on Friday who told him they were grateful to have had his son as a sergeant.
“They look back and say they’ve learned so much from him,” said Darin Hoover. “A hell of a chef. “
His father said his son was also his two sisters’ best friend and loved all of his extended family. He had a girlfriend in California and was the kind of guy who “lit a room” when he walked in, his father said.
Nate Thompson of Murray, Utah, first met Hoover at the age of 10 in Little League football. They remained friends until high school, where Hoover played the lineman role. He was undersized for the job, but his heart and hard work more than made up for what he lacked in the law, Thompson said. As a friend, he was selfless and kind.
“If we had trouble with the grades, issues with family, or issues on the pitch, we would always call Taylor. He always has a cool head, even if he fights himself, ”he said.
DEAGAN WILLIAM-TYELER PAGE, 23
Corporal Daegan William-Tyeler Page served in the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment based at Camp Pendleton, Calif., And planned to attend business school and possibly become a lineman after completing his enlistment, his family said in a statement.
Page grew up in Red Oak, Iowa and the Omaha metro area and joined the Marines after graduating from Millard South High School. He is mourned by his girlfriend, parents, stepmother and stepfather, four siblings and grandparents, the family said in a statement released by a family friend. The statement said the family did not wish to speak to the media at this time.
“Daegan will always be remembered for her sturdy outer shell and giant heart,” the statement read. “Our hearts are broken, but we are grateful to the friends and family around us during this time. Our thoughts and prayers are also with the other Navy and Navy families whose loved ones have died alongside Daegan. “
RYAN KNAUSS, 23 years old
The army sergeant major. Ryan Knauss is remembered as a driven man who loved his country and was eager to return to the United States and eventually move to Washington, DC, family members told WATE-TV in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Knauss ‘grandfather Wayne Knauss told the TV station the family learned of Knauss’ death on Friday and funeral services were scheduled. Knauss said his grandson attended Gibbs High School and grew up in a Christian home.
“A motivated young man who loved his country,” said Wayne Knauss. “He was a believer, so we’ll see him again in God’s heaven. “
Stepmom Linnae Knauss said Ryan plans to move to Washington after returning to the United States
“He was a hilarious super smart young man,” she said.
HUNTER LOPEZ, 22 years old
Hunter Lopez, whose parents work in the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in Southern California, served as a Sheriff’s Explorer for three years before joining the Marine Corps in September 2017, Sheriff Chad Bianco said.
Bianco said Lopez plans to follow in his parents’ footsteps and become a Riverside County Sheriff’s Deputy after his deployment.
DAVID LEE ESPINOZA, 20
Lance Corporal David Lee Espinoza, a Marine from Laredo, Texas, joined the Army after high school and his mother remembered him as a hero.
“He was just brave enough to go do what he wanted and help people. That’s what he was, he was just perfect, ”his mother, Elizabeth Holguin. told the Laredo Morning Times.
Espinoza’s death was confirmed earlier by U.S. Representative Henry Cuellar. Congressman Dana Youngentob’s press secretary said Pentagon officials visited Cuellar’s office in Washington to inform him of Espinoza’s death. Cuellar’s office also received an official death notice from the Pentagon.
In a statement, Cuellar said Espinoza “embodied America’s values: courage, dedication, service and bravery. When he joined the military after high school, he did so with the intention of protecting our nation and demonstrating his selfless acts of service. “
Cuellar concluded: “The brave never die. Mr. Espinoza is a hero.
Associated Press editors Terry Wallace in Dallas, Lindsay Whitehurst and Brady McCombs in Salt Lake City, and Darlene Superville in Washington, DC, contributed to this report.
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