US service members killed in Afghanistan airport assault: What we all know

Thirteen U.S. service members were killed in a suicide bombing attack near Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport on Thursday as thousands sought to flee following the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan.

Among them were 11 Marines, according to the Pentagon, plus one Navy hospital corpsman and one Army soldier. At least 18 other U.S. service members were injured, and at least 169 Afghans were also killed.

The Afghan victims included a news agency founder. British officials also said there were two citizens and the child of another citizen among the dead.

President Joe Biden commended the “bravery and sacrifice” of the U.S military Friday, calling the 13 deaths “tragic” but saying they died for a “worthy mission.”

Names and other details of the service members killed were released by the Department of Defense on Saturday:

  • Marine Corps Lance Cpl. David L. Espinoza, 20, of Rio Bravo, Texas
  • Marine Corps Sgt. Nicole L. Gee, 23, of Sacramento, California
  • Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Darin T. Hoover, 31, of Salt Lake City, Utah
  • U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Knauss, 23, of Corryton, Tennessee
  • Marine Corps Cpl. Hunter Lopez, 22, of Indio, California
  • Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Rylee J. McCollum, 20, Jackson, Wyoming
  • Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Dylan R. Merola, 20, of Rancho Cucamonga, California
  • Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Kareem M. Nikoui, 20, of Norco, California
  • Marine Corps Cpl. Daegan W. Page, 23, of Omaha, Nebraska
  • Marine Corps Sgt. Johanny Rosariopichardo, 25, of Lawrence, Massachusetts
  • Marine Corps Cpl. Humberto A. Sanchez, 22, of Logansport, Indiana
  • Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jared M. Schmitz, 20, of St. Charles, Missouri
  • Navy Hospitalman Maxton W. Soviak, 22, of Berlin Heights, Ohio

How it happened:Satellite images, graphics, and maps show how fatal airport explosion ripped through Kabul

These are their stories. This list will be updated as more information becomes available.

Marine Corps Lance Cpl. David Espinoza

A Texas Marine was among the 13 American troops and more than a hundred Afghans killed in Thursday’s suicide bombing in Afghanistan, local officials said Friday.

The City of Laredo identified David Lee Espinoza as one of the U.S. service members killed in the attack in the capital of Kabul.

“Thank you for your service to the United States of America and Laredo. Your acts of courage and bravery will always be remembered in our community,” the City of Laredo said in a statement.

Espinoza was born in Laredo but grew up in Rio Bravo, KGNS-TV reported. He attended Lyndon B. Johnson High School in Laredo.

Read more:Texas Marine David Lee Espinoza, 20, lauded for ‘courage and bravery,’ killed in Kabul airport attack

Marine Corps Sgt. Nicole L. Gee

A week ago, Gee, 23, posted a photo on Instagram that showed her holding a baby at that airport. She added a simple, profound comment: “I love my job.” The same photo was posted by the Department of Defense on Aug. 21. 

Gee, from Sacramento, California, served as a maintenance technician with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit from Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. On her Instagram page, she described herself as a “positive mental attitude advocate.” The locations listed on her page include California, North Carolina and “somewhere overseas.”

This undated photo provided by U.S. Department of Defense twitter page posted Aug. 20, 2021 shows Sgt. Nicole Gee holding a baby at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan.   Officials said Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021,  that Sgt. Nicole Gee of Sacramento, Calif., was killed in Thursday’s bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan.   (U.S. Department of Defense via AP) ORG XMIT: NY851

Another photo on Gee’s Instagram page shows her earlier in the week, on duty with her rifle next to a line of people waiting to board a transport plane. She described her assignment as “escorting evacuees onto the bird.”

Other recent Instagram photos show Gee with friends in Spain, where they shared a toast, and Greece. Other pictures show the Marine riding a camel in Saudi Arabia and receiving her promotion to sergeant. 

“Never would have imagined having my Sergeant promotion meritoriously in Kuwait,” she wrote of the promotion in a post shared three weeks ago.

Read more:California Marine Nicole Gee, 23, who cradled baby at Kabul airport, killed in Afghanistan attack

Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Taylor Hoover

Flags flew at half-staff in Utah as more flags lined the street outside the family home of Taylor Hoover, a Marine Corps staff sergeant who was killed in the suicide bombing Thursday.

The Department of Defense confirmed the death of Darin T. Hoover on Saturday, and multiple media outlets report Hoover’s name is Darin Taylor Hoover.

Hoover, 31, was remembered by family as a hero who lived to serve. Gov. Spencer Cox and an Associated Press report citing friends and family referred to Hoover by his middle name.

“He gave his life protecting those that can’t protect themselves, doing what he loved:  serving his country,” his father Darin Hoover said.

American flags and yellow ribbons line the sidewalk outside the house of Darren Hoover, whose son, Staff Sgt. Taylor Hoover was killed in Afghanistan, on August 27.

Taylor Hoover served in the Marines for 11 years. His father said he was best friends with his two sisters and left behind a girlfriend in California. He described his son as someone who “lit up a room.”

Darin Hoover said other Marines who worked with his son reached out to him to say how much they learned from him.

“One heck of a leader,” Darin Hoover said.

Gov. Spencer Cox confirmed the sergeant’s death in a statement Friday and thanked him for his service, saying “We’ll never forget his unwavering devotion.”

Read more:Utah Marine Taylor Hoover, 31, killed in Afghanistan airport attack

US Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss, 23, was among 13 American service members killed in Thursday’s suicide bombing attack.

Initial reports said the slain Americans were all Marines with the exception of a Navy corpsman, making the news of his death “quite a shock” to his family, his grandmother Evelena Knauss told The Daily Beast.

“We were led to think that it was 12 Marines and one Navy, and we knew our grandson was in the Army,” Knauss said. “So we were praying for the families of the Marines, not knowing our grandson was one of the ones who lost his life… You just don’t think it will be yours.”

Knauss had already served a nine-month deployment in Afghanistan. He grew up in Tennessee and joined the Army after graduating from Gibbs High School in Corryton, near Knoxville.

In a statement, U.S. Sen. Bill Hagerty of Tennessee described Knauss as a “brave, honorable, and heroic man – a Tennessee volunteer – who, with a servant’s heart, gave everything of himself at just 23 years old for his state and the country that he loved dearly.”

Read more:US Army soldier Ryan Knauss, 23, ‘a Tennessee volunteer,’ killed in Afghanistan airport attack

Marine Corps Cpl. Hunter Lopez

A California Marine was among the 13 U.S. service members killed during a bomb attack near the international airport in Kabul on Thursday, according to the Riverside Sheriff’s Association.

Hunter Lopez was from a family with deep roots in the Coachella Valley. He is the son of two Riverside County Sheriff’s Department employees. 

“We are heartbroken to hear this sad news about Hunter, who chose to follow a life of service, selflessness, courage and sacrifice, like his parents,” the news release reads.

Coachella Valley man, Hunter Lopez, 22, was killed in the bomb attacks in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Aug. 26, 2021.

The sheriff’s association said Lopez was a Riverside Sheriff’s Explorer Scout with the Palm Desert Station from Sept. 2014 to Aug. 2017. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines and was planning on joining the sheriff’s department when he returned from deployment, according to the release.

“Like his parents, Hunter wanted to help serve others and protect his community,” La Quinta Mayor Linda Evans said. “Our City Council and staff ask the community to join us in prayer and support for the Lopez family, as they navigate through this difficult time.”

Read more:California Marine Hunter Lopez, 22, son of sheriff’s department parents, killed in Kabul airport attack

Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum

A Marine and expectant father from Wyoming, Rylee McCollum, was among the 13 American troops killed, Wyoming state officials said Friday.

“I’m devastated to learn Wyoming lost one of our own in yesterday’s terrorist attack in Kabul,” Gov. Mark Gordon said in a statement thanking McCollum for his service.

McCollum attended Jackson Hole High School and Summit Innovations School, graduating in 2019.

This Dec. 2019, photo provided by Regi Stone shows Eli Stone, left, and Rylee McCollum, at Christmas in Stone's house in Jackson, Wyo. Rylee McCollum, of Bondurant, Wyo., was one of the U.S. Marines killed in the suicide bombing at the Kabul airport, in Afghanistan, according to his sister, Roice McCollum.

Roice McCollum, Rylee’s older sister, confirmed to the Casper Star-Tribune, Wyoming’s statewide newspaper, that McCollum was expecting a baby in three weeks.

“He wanted to be a Marine his whole life and carried around his rifle in his diapers and cowboy boots,” McCollum’s sister told the Star-Tribune. “He was determined to be in infantry… Rylee wanted to be a history teacher and a wrestling coach when he finished serving his country. He’s a tough, kind, loving kid who made an impact on everyone he met. His joke and wit brought so much joy.”

Read more:Wyoming Marine Rylee McCollum, 20, an expectant father, killed in Afghanistan airport attack

Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Kareem Nikoui

Friends and family are mourning the death of U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Kareem Mae’Lee Grant Nikoui, a California native who was one of 13 American service members killed Thursday in an explosion in Afghanistan.

In a statement, the city of Norco said Nikoui graduated from Norco High School in 2019 after joining JROTC, and then became a Marine.

Steve Nikoui told The Daily Beast that he is upset with President Joe Biden, and is trying to “respect the office,” although he supported former President Donald Trump.

Wayne Eggleston lowers a U.S. flag to half-staff on Friday at Park Semper Fi in San Clemente, California.

“I blame my own military leaders. … Biden turned his back on him. That’s it,” Nikoui said.

In a statement, the Norco High School Air Force JROTC said Nikoui was “one of the best” of its 2019 graduates.

“Kareem was set on being a Marine & always wanted to serve his country. Kareem made the ultimate sacrifice for his country and his memory will live on forever,” the JROTC said in a statement.

Read more:California Marine Kareem Nikoui, 20, killed in Kabul airport bombing: ‘His memory will live on forever’

Marine Corps Cpl. Daegan William-Tyeler Page

Corporal Daegan William-Tyeler Page, a 23-year-old Marine, was among the 13 American service members killed in the attack.

On Saturday, the Department of Defense identified Marine Corps Cpl. Daegan W. Page of Omaha, Nebraska, as one of the casualties. Page was raised in Red Oak, Iowa, and in the Omaha area and joined the Marines after graduating from Millard South High School. 

Page served in the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment based at Camp Pendleton, California. He planned to go to trade school and possibly become a lineman after his enlistment ended, his family said in a statement.

Page’s family remembered him “for his tough outer shell and giant heart.” according to a statement published by the Omaha World-Herald.

“Our hearts are broken,” the statement said. “But we are thankful for the friends and family who are surrounding us during this time.”

The Marine’s family said Page loved the brotherhood of the Marines and joined after graduating from Millard South High School in Omaha. He grew up in Red Oak, a city of almost 6,000 people in southwest Iowa, and the Omaha metro area, according to the statement.

Read more:Marine Daegan William-Tyeler Page, 23, killed in Afghanistan airport attack

Marine Corps Cpl. Humberto Sanchez

Humberto Sanchez, an Indiana Marine corporal, was killed in a suicide bombing Thursday near Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport, Congress members say.

In a Facebook post, U.S. Rep. Jim Baird, whose district includes Logansport, where Sanchez is from, asked Hoosiers to pray for the Marine’s family.

“He bravely answered the call to serve his nation, and I am both proud of his service and deeply saddened by his loss,” Baird wrote in the Facebook post. “May we never forget Corporal Sanchez’s name or his heroism to a grateful nation.”

In a Facebook post of his own, Sen. Mike Braun called Sanchez “an American hero.”

“His service and sacrifice will never be forgotten,” Braun wrote.

The Logansport Community School Corporation said he was a Logansport High School graduate. 

“We’re forever indebted to the service men and women who risk it all to protect others,” the school district tweeted. “We will never forget the names of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.”

Read more:Indiana Marine Humberto Sanchez killed in Afghanistan airport attack, Congress members say

Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jared Schmitz

A Marine from the St. Louis area was among the 13 American service members killed, according to the man’s father and a U.S. senator. Jared Schmitz was among the dead, his father, Mark Schmitz told the radio station KMOX.

“This has just been absolutely devastating,” Schmitz told the station Friday. Schmitz was from St. Charles, Missouri, according to the Department of Defense.

Schmitz told the station the U.S. Marine Corps came to his home to deliver “the horrific news” around 2:40 a.m. Friday.

U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley confirmed his death in a statement posted to Twitter.

“Today I spoke with the family of Lance Corporal Jared Schmitz…a Marine who lost his life yesterday in the Kabul attacks, while proudly serving this nation. I promised his family that his service and his legacy will not be forgotten,” Hawley wrote.

Read more:Missouri Marine Jared Schmitz, an ‘American hero,’ killed in Afghanistan airport attack

Navy Hospital Corpsman Max Soviak

An Ohio Navy hospital corpsman, Max Soviak, is among the 13 killed, a school district confirmed Friday.

The Edison Local School District said Soviak, a 2017 graduate of Edison High School in Milan, was killed in the attack.

“It is with deepest sorrow that I am sharing this news,” Superintendent Thomas Roth said in a statement. “Max was a good student who was active in sports and other activities throughout his school career. He was well respected and liked by everyone who knew him. Max was full of life in everything he did.”

Max Soviak poses for his U.S. Navy protrait.

At Edison High School, Soviak was a member of the football team, wrestling team, tennis team, track team and band, Roth told USA TODAY. Before joining the Navy, he worked as a lifeguard and as a maintenance technician, The Sandusky Register reported.

Read more:Navy hospital corpsman Maxton Soviak, 22, ‘a good kid’ from Ohio, killed in Kabul airport attack

Contributing: The Associated Press

Comments are closed.