Thousands came to pay their respects Monday at the public funeral service for U.S. Navy Corpsman Maxton Soviak, who was killed last month in a terror attack in Afghanistan.
Members of the U.S. Navy Ceremonial Guard from Washington, D.C. carried Soviak’s casket onto the field for the public service, which was held at the Edison High School football stadium in Milan. Soviak played for the Chargers while attending the high school, and his old No. 27 was painted in orange near both end zones.
Soviak was among the 13 U.S. military members and more than 150 Afghans killed in the Aug. 26 terror attack at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul. He was 22 years old.
Gov. Mike DeWine and his wife Fran DeWine, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted and Berlin Heights Mayor Connie Ward were all in attendance for the service. Rear Admiral Charles Rock, the Commander of the Navy Region Mid-Atlantic, was also present.
Soviak’s father and siblings were among those who spoke during the service. They remembered him as a hero, and expressed their admiration for how Soviak lived his life with passion and positivity.
His younger sister, Josepheen Soviak, recalled how he texted the family Aug. 24 to remind them to be appreciative of one another. She said she knows her brother would want her to keep his outlook on life even in the family’s tough time.
“I was and still am lucky to be the little sister of a hero,” she said.
Earlier this year, Soviak posted a picture on Instagram of himself jumping into a body of water in Guam. He added the caption “because also, if the world was coming to an end, I don’t wanna close my eyes without feeling like I lived.”
After Soviak died, his commanding officer told his parents Kip and Rachel Soviak how their son was helping others, even in his final moments.
Soviak, who served as a medic, was called to help a mother and child who needed medical attention. He was providing aid when a suicide bomber carried out the terror attack, the commanding officer told Soviak’s parents.
Kip Soviak ended his address by reading the names of the service members who were killed, placing the word “hero” at the end of each.
“Corpsman Maxton William Soviak, hero,” Kip Soviak said, holding back tears. “My hero.”
Some family members recalled treasured memories of Soviak. His brother, Bryan Kinney, talked about how the two used to play the video game Call of Duty together.
Sister Marilyn Soviak told those in attendance that she felt some peace knowing Soviak passed away serving his country alongside his fellow service members.
The family also thanked everyone in attendance for the support they’ve received since Soviak’s death.
“I can honestly say we are Soviak Strong,” said Soviak’s father, Kip Soviak. “But also, when I see all of you here and think of all the outpouring support we have received, I realized we are not only Soviak Strong, we are Berlin Heights Strong. We are Milan Strong. We are Edison Strong. We are Erie County Strong. We are Ohio Strong. We are Navy, Marine, Army, Air Force and Coast Guard Strong. And we are USA Strong.”
Before Monday’s public funeral service, a private viewing was held Sunday at the Edison High School fieldhouse. Thousands lined the streets last Wednesday for Soviak’s funeral procession in Berlin Heights.
Soviak was honored with a promotion to the rank of Hospital Corpsman Third Class on Sept. 2. He and the other 12 service members were awarded the Purple Heart. Along with the Purple Heart, Soviak was also awarded the Fleet Marine Force Corpsman warfare badge.
Soviak is survived by his mother and father, four grandparents and 12 siblings.
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