A suicide bombing attack believed to be carried out by an Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist left 13 U.S. service members dead and at least 18 injured. At least eight of the slain service members’ identities surfaced on Friday.
Among the 13 killed were 11 U.S. Marines, 1 U.S. Army soldier, and 1 Navy corpsman, the Pentagon said. Family members and media reports on Friday had identified Navy corpsman Maxton Soviak, and Marines Kareem Nikoui, David Espinoza, Rylee McCollum, Jared Schmitz, Hunter Lopez, Taylor Hoover, Daegan William-Tyeler Page, Nicole Gee, Humberto Sanchez, Dylan Merola, Johanny Rosario Pichardo and Army soldier Ryan Knauss.
Navy corpsman Max Soviak
The Navy corpsman was identified in multiple media reports as Maxton Soviak, 22, of Berlin Heights, Ohio. The news was revealed in a notice from the Edison school district, which paid tribute to Soviak as a 2017 Edison High School graduate who was a Navy medic killed in the Kabul attack.
Marilyn Soviak, who identified herself on Instagram as Maxton Soviak’s sister, wrote a post on Friday confirming his death.
“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,” Marilyn Soviak wrote.
“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,” she added.
Marine Kareem Nikoui
Kareem Nikoui was first identified as one of fallen by his father to The Daily Beast.
His father, Steve Nikoui, said he had been “glued to the TV” watching the events unfold in Kabul knowing that his son was there. At 7:15 pm PT on Thursday, he spotted the Marines on his doorbell camera to deliver the news of his son’s death, and described them as “more choked up than me.”
He explained that his son “loved what he was doing, he always wanted to be a Marine,” adding, “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.”
Marine David Espinoza
Lance Cpl. David L. Espinoza, 20, of Rio Bravo, Texas was also identified as one of the slain Marines.
Rio Bravo Mayor Gilbert Aguilar posted a tribute to Espinoza on the City Hall Facebook page.
“City of Rio Bravo is mourning the loss of one of our own,” the post said. “Thank you for your Service David Lee Espinoza, City of Rio Bravo is mourning the loss of a HERO.”
Rep. Henry Cuellar, a U.S. Congressman representing Texas’ 28th District, also acknowledged Espinoza’s death.
“Mr. Espinoza, a Laredo Marine killed in Afghanistan, embodied the values of America: grit, dedication, service, and valor. 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 said. “I mourn him and all the fallen heroes in Afghanistan. My heart goes out to the Espinoza family in this extremely difficult time. The brave never die. Mr. Espinoza is a hero.”
Marine Rylee McCollum
Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum, 20, of Jackson, Wyoming, was another Marine killed in the Kabul attack. His sister, Roice McCollum, identified him to local media outlet Casper Star-Tribune. He and his wife were expecting a baby in just three weeks.
“He wanted to be a Marine his whole life and carried around his rifle in his diapers and cowboy boots,” Roice McCollum’s said of her brother. “He was determined to be in infantry.”
“Rylee will always be a hero not just for the ultimate sacrifice he made for our country, but for the way he impacted every life around him for the better. Making us stronger, kinder, teaching us to love deeper,” she added.
Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon also paid tribute to McCollum, saying, “I’m devastated to learn Wyoming lost one of our own in yesterday’s terrorist attack in Kabul. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Rylee McCollum of Bondurant. Jennie and I, along with all of Wyoming and the entire country thank Rylee for his service.”
Marine Jared Schmitz
Marine Lance Cpl. Jared Schmitz, 20, of Missouri, was another Marine identified by his father to local media outlet KMOX.
“The Marines came by last night at two-forty in the morning to give us the horrific news,” Mark Schmitz said of learning of his son’s death.
“His life meant so much more. I’m so incredibly devastated that I won’t be able to see the man that he was very quickly growing into becoming,” he said.
Marine Hunter Lopez
Cpl. Hunter Lopez, 22, of Indio, Calif. was also identified among the slain Marines. Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco confirmed the news in a Facebook post, adding that Hunter Lopez was the son of the department’s Captain Herman Lopez and Deputy Alicia Lopez.
“I am unbelievably saddened and heartbroken for the Lopez family as they grieve over the loss of their American Hero,” Bianco said. “Before joining the Marine Corps, Hunter proudly served in our Sheriff’s Explorer Program. Our entire department is mourning this tragic loss. The Lopez family exemplifies the meaning of Service Above Self.”
Marine Taylor Hoover
Marine Staff Sgt. Taylor Hoover, 31, of Utah also died in the attack, friends and family confirmed to local Salt Lake City media outlet KSL TV.
Utah Gov. Spencer Cox confirmed Hoover’s death in a tweet, saying, “We are devastated to hear of the passing of Staff Sgt. Taylor Hoover, who served valiantly as a Marine and died serving his fellow countrymen as well as America’s allies in Afghanistan.”
A LinkedIn profile for Hoover describes him as a Marine Training NCO and had been in the service since September 2010.
Marine Daegan William-Tyeler Page
Marine Cpl. Daegan William-Tyeler Page, 23, of Omaha, Nebraska, was identified via a statement from his family provided to Omaha, Neb. media outlet KETV.
“Our beloved son, Corporal Daegan William-Tyeler Page, 23, was killed in Afghanistan yesterday. Daegan joined the 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,” the statement said.
Marine Nicole Gee
Sgt. Nicole Gee, 23, of Sacramento, California, was a maintenance technician with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit from Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.
Sgt. Mallory Harrison, who lived with Gee for three years, wrote on Facebook, “I can’t quite describe the feeling I get when I force myself to come back to reality & think about how I’m never going to see her again. How her last breath was taken doing what she loved — helping people. … Then there was an explosion. And just like that, she’s gone.”
Gee was photographed days before the attack, caring for a baby at the Kabul airport.
Marine Humberto Sanchez
Cpl. Humberto A. Sanchez, 22, of Logansport, Indiana, was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, California.
“He bravely answered the call to serve his nation, and I am both proud of his service and deeply saddened by his loss,” Rep. Jim Baird wrote in the Facebook post. “May we never forget Corporal Sanchez’s name or his heroism to a grateful nation.”
Marine Dylan Merola
Lance Cpl. Dylan R. Merola, 20, of Rancho Cucamonga, California was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, California.
“Dylan was a beloved son, brother, grandson, great grandson, nephew, a great friend, and a brave soldier who paid the ultimate sacrifice at the Abbey Gate at Hamid Karzai International Airport during the evacuation,” friend Joseph Matsuoka said, the Press Enterprise reported.
Marine Johanny Rosario Pichardo
Marine Corps Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo, 25, of Lawrence, Massachusetts, was assigned to 5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, Naval Support Activity Bahrain.
“Johanny Rosario was a special being in our community, full of light and armed with valor and bravery, who at the young age of 18 decided to raise her hand to serve our country as a member of the United States Marine Corps,” Lawrence Mayor Kendrys Vasquez said, WCBV 5 reported.
Soldier Ryan Knauss
1st Special Forces Command tweeted, “Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Knauss, 23, of Corryton, Tenn., died Aug. 26 from wounds sustained during the attack at HKIA in Kabul, Afghanistan. Ryan was a Psychological Operations NCO assigned to 9th PSYOP Bn, @8thPSYOPgroup at Fort Bragg. @[email protected]@USArmy.”
“’Ryan was the embodiment of an Army Special Operations Forces soldier, a testament to the professionalism of the non-commissioned officer corps, and a steadfast husband and teammate. His loss is devastating to our formation and Army family.’ [email protected]’s Col. Jeremy Mushtare.”
Marine Corps spokesman Maj. Jim Stenger told CNN on Friday, “We can confirm, at this time, 11 Marines were killed in the line of duty at Hamid Karzai International Airport. This is an update to the information we provided yesterday.”
The Army confirmed late Friday morning that one soldier had died in the attack.
Late Thursday, CENTCOM spokesperson Capt. Bill Urban confirmed that a 13th service member died of their injuries after the attack.
“A thirteenth U.S. service member has died from his wounds suffered as a result of the attack on Abbey Gate. The latest number of injured is now 18, all of whom are in the process of being aeromedically evacuated from Afghanistan on specially equipped C-17s with embarked surgical units,” Urban said.
Approximately 1,000 Marines from 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines of Camp Pendleton were deployed to the Middle East as part of a crisis response task force. At least one other Marine battalion, in addition to the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division soldiers were also deployed.
Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby told reporters on Friday afternoon that 20 service members were injured and evacuated to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, and an unspecified number of other injured service members were treated in Kabul and returned to duty.