Marine Corps Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo of Lawrence was among the 13 “heroes” killed in the Afghan evacuation to be honored with the Congressional Gold Medal.
President Biden signed a bipartisan bill to memorialize the service members lost in the summer airlift out of Kabul that ended tragically.
“Sergeant Johanny Rosario Pichardo is a hero to her family, her friends, her community, and her country. Not a day goes by that her absence isn’t felt by those who had the honor of knowing her and many more who didn’t but remain deeply grateful for the sacrifices she made,” U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan said in a statement Thursday.
Rosario, 25, was killed during a suicide bombing near Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport in Afghanistan in August 2021. She was screening women and children at an airport gate on Thursday, Aug. 26th, and died alongside 10 other Marines, one Navy corpsman, and one Army soldier. It was the “deadliest single day of the war for the United States in more than a decade,” according to the bill signed by Biden. Some 200 Afghans were also killed in the attack.
Her body was laid to rest in Lawrence’s Bellevue Cemetery in September.
Congress has awarded the Gold Medal as its “highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions” since the American Revolution. Past recipients include George Washington, Ulysses S. Grant, Winston Churchill, and Robert F. Kennedy.
The bill, introduced into the Senate by Massachusetts Democrat Elizabeth Warren, recognizes the 13 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 dozen other service members to posthumously receive medals include: Maxton Soviak, Kareem Nikoui, David Espinoza, Rylee McCollum, Jared Schmitz, Hunter Lopez, Taylor Hoover, Daegan William-Tyeler Page, Nicole Gee, Humberto Sanchez, Dylan Merola, and Ryan Knauss.
Lawrence locals applauded the national recognition of Rosario’s sacrifice.
“It is an honor to know our nation and its elected officials make it a point to recognize those that make the ultimate sacrifice, it speaks to the character of this nation and its people. I ask that we all keep them and their families in our thoughts and prayers. May we never forget!” said Jaime Melendez Jr., director of Veteran Services for the City of Lawrence.
“The awarding of the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest award that Congress can bestow, is the least we can do to honor all Sergeant Rosario Pichardo did to save the lives of countless Americans and Afghan allies. It will serve as a reminder of the life of service she lived and the obligation each of us shares to carry on her legacy each day,” said Trahan, D-Lawrence.
(c) 2021 the Boston Herald
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.