The thirteen American troops who were among the nearly 200 people killed in an attack at Kabul Airport on Thursday are being returned to American soil.
A detonation set off by an ISIS-K suicide bomber near the airport’s Abbey Gate amid evacuation efforts also killed at least 170 Afghans, including children, two British nationals and a child of a British citizen.
The names of the American service members are being released 24 hours after next-of-kin notifications, though some of those killed have been identified by family and officials.
Here’s what we know about them so far.
Rylee McCollum, a 20-year-old Marine from Wyoming “wanted to help people” and often stood up for classmates who were bullied, his father Mark Gordon told The New York Times, he had been guarding a checkpoint when the explosion happened, leaving behind a wife and a baby expected to be born in September.
Another 20-year-old Marine from Missouri, Jared Schmitz, graduated high school in 2019 before joining the Marines, something he “always wanted to do,” his father, Mark Schmitz told radio station KMOX, saying he’d never seen anyone “train as hard as he did to be the best soldier he could be.”
David Espinoza, a 20-year-old Marine from Texas who graduated from Lyndon B. Johnson High School in 2019, “embodied the values, the grit and the dedication” of a U.S. military service member, Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar told the Washington Post.
Hunter Lopez, a 22-year-old California Marine and the son of two Riverside County sheriff’s deputies, was a Riverside sheriff’s explorer scout for three years and planned to join the force like his father after deployment, the Riverside Sheriff’s Association told the TV station KTLA, saying Hunter “chose to follow a life of service, selflessness, courage and sacrifice, like his parents.”
Another California Marine, Kareem Nikoui, who joined the ROTC and graduated high school in 2019 before enlisting, was identified by his hometown, Norco, in a Facebook post as one of the soldiers killed in action, and the city says his name will be added to its memorial for fallen soldiers.
The only sailor killed in the attack, Max Soviak, an Ohio Navy hospital corpsman in his 20s, was paid tribute by his former high school, which said Soviak was a good student and “full of life” on social media, and by his sister Marilyn Soviak, who wrote on Instagram, “my beautiful, intelligent, beat-to-the-sound of his own drum, annoying, charming baby brother was killed yesterday helping to save lives … and my family will never be the same.”
Seven more names of the service personnel who perished will be released in the coming days.
President Joe Biden mourned the loss of the U.S. service members, while vowing to retaliate against those who orchestrated the attacks and continue the process of withdrawing from the capital.
The President said:
The Pentagon announced it carried out a drone strike on the ISIS ‘planner’ behind the attack last night.
They said the ISIS chief’s car was obliterated by a missile while driving through Nangahar province in eastern Afghanistan.