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House passes bill to award Congressional Gold Medal to 13 US troops killed in Kabul

Congressional Gold Medal (Speaker John Boehner/Flickr)
October 26, 2021

The House on Monday unanimously passed a bill posthumously awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to the 13 U.S. troops killed in a terrorist attack outside the Hamid Karzai International Airport Kabul during President Joe Biden’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan in August.

“The American servicemembers went above and beyond the call of duty to protect citizens of the United States and our allies to ensure they are brought to safety in an extremely dangerous situation as the Taliban regained control over Afghanistan,” the legislation stated.

“The American servicemembers exemplified extreme bravery and valor against armed enemy combatants,” it added.

In August, Rep. Lisa McClain (R-MI) introduced the bill to “make sure we honor these servicemembers who made the ultimate sacrifice.”

“These heroic men and women are gone far too soon, and we must honor them for their bravery in helping U.S. citizens and Afghan allies safely evacuate Afghanistan,” Rep. McClain said in a statement. “My heart aches for the families and loved ones of our servicemembers. We will always remember their service and pay tribute to their sacrifice.”

McClain later told ABC News that the fallen troops’ sacrifice “will never be forgotten.” She said she was encouraged by the “overwhelming bipartisan support” for the measure, which garnered 325 cosponsors.

“I urge the Senate to quickly pass this bill so we can properly honor these fallen servicemembers,” McClain told ABC.

Among the 13 killed were 11 U.S. Marines, 1 U.S. Army soldier, and 1 Navy corpsman. Their names are: Navy corpsman Maxton Soviak, Army soldier Ryan Knauss, 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.

“I’m grateful to my colleague, Rep. Lisa McClain, for introducing this bill to award Congressional Gold Medals to the 13 fallen service members that were needlessly killed in Afghanistan,” said Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene in a statment. “These heroic young members of our military represent the best of us and each of them shall not be forgotten. We join their families and friends in prayer and mourn their losses with them.”

The Congressional Gold Medal is Congress’ top expression of appreciation. It is also the highest civilian award in the U.S.

In late August, Biden addressed the end of the U.S. involvement in the war in Afghanistan, calling the withdrawal mission that left 13 service members dead, 18 more injured, and hundreds of Americans stranded behind enemy lines an “extraordinary success.”