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Biden expected to sign bill giving 13 troops killed in Afghanistan Congressional Gold Medals

Congressional Gold Medal. (Sgt. Timothy Smithers/US. Marine Corps)
November 22, 2021

On Thursday, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution by Sen. Todd Young (R-IN) to honor the 13 U.S. service members killed in a suicide bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan in August with Congressional Gold Medals. The resolution already passed in the U.S. House of Representatives in October with unanimous approval and now goes to President Joe Biden, who is expected to sign.

On Thursday, Young announced that his resolution passed with unanimous approval in the U.S. Senate.

With Biden’s signature, Congress can go forward with presenting the Congressional Gold Medals in honor of Marines Cpl. Humberto A. Sanchez, Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo, Sgt. Nicole L. Gee, Staff Sgt. Darin T. Hoover, Cpl. Hunter Lopez, Cpl. Daegan W. Page, Lance Cpl. David L. Espinoza, Lance Cpl. Jared M. Schmitz, Lance Cpl. Rylee J. McCollum, Lance Cpl. Dylan R. Merola, Lance Cpl. Kareem M. Nikoui, Navy Corpsman Maxton W. Soviak, and Army Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Knauss. 

The 13 U.S. service members were deployed to Kabul as part of the U.S. military-led evacuation of civilians from Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover of the country in August. During the evacuation efforts, a member of the Islamic State’s Afghanistan branch — known as the Islamic State in Khorasan or ISIS-K — approached the airport perimeter with a suicide bomb. The bomb blast killed the 13 U.S. troops and dozens of civilians. An additional 18 U.S. service members were also wounded, as were dozens more civilians.

“America honors the bravery and selfless service of the 13 service members who made the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan, including Indiana’s own Corporal Humberto ‘Bert’ Sanchez,” Young said. “Bert gave his life protecting strangers thousands of miles from home. He was the best, not just of the Marine Corps, but of this country. It is fitting that we award these heroes the Congressional Gold Medal.” 

The bill states, “The American service members 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 American service members exemplified extreme bravery and valor against armed enemy combatants. The American service members dedicated their lives and their heroism deserves great honor.”