These are the US service members killed in the Kabul airport attack

These are the US service members killed in the Kabul airport attack

The identities of the 13 US service members who were killed by an ISIS-K suicide bomber outside the Kabul airport while helping to oversee the evacuation of thousands of Americans and Afghan allies have been confirmed by authorities.

The US Marines on Saturday released the names of the dead, including 11 Marines, one Navy corpsman, and one Army soldier.

“We continue to mourn the loss of these Marines and pray for their families. Our focus now is taking care of the families of those who were killed and caring for our injured,” Maj. Jim Stenger, a Marine Corps spokesperson, told The Post in an email. 

Here’s what we know about the US service members who were killed. 

Maxton Soviak, 22, Navy

Soviak, a Navy hospital corpsman, hailed from Berlin Heights, Ohio, and graduated from Edison High School in Milan in 2017, the Sandusky Register reported

A woman who identified herself as Soviak’s older sister and goes by Marilyn Soviak on Instagram penned a heartbreaking post-Friday that confirmed her brother’s death. 

US Navy corpsman Max Soviak
Maxton Soviak also worked as a lifeguard and a maintenance technician before he died.

“I’ve never been one for politics and I’m not going to start now. What I will say is that my beautiful, intelligent, beat-to-the-sound of his own drum, annoying, charming baby brother was killed yesterday helping to save lives,” the sister wrote. 

“[H]e was a f–king medic. there to help people. and now he is gone and my family will never be the same. there is a large Maxton-sized hole that will never be filled,” she wrote alongside a slideshow of images showing the two as children.

“[H]e was just a kid. [W]e are sending kids over there to die. kids with families that now have holes just like ours.” 

Soviak’s family later released a statement calling him a “wonderful son who loved his family, his community, and was proud to serve in the US Navy.”

“He was excited about the opportunities the Navy would offer him and planned to make the Navy a career,” the statement said.

“We are incredibly proud of his service to our country… Words cannot express how heartbroken we are with this news and we will miss Max tremendously.”

While in high school, Soviak played football and was on the honor roll, the outlet reported.

“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,” the school said in a statement, adding that news of his death has brought “great sorrow.”

Soviak previously worked as a lifeguard and a maintenance technician, the outlet reported. 

A GoFundMe page started by family friend Jason Garza had raised more than $6,700 as of Friday night.

“His family is going through much turmoil and grief,” Garza wrote, “so we wanted to start this fund in honor of Max and his family to help with everything financial so they can focus on their family during this time of need.”

Kareem Nikoui, 20, Marines

Kareem Nikoui’s father didn’t realize his son had been killed until he saw a clutch of Marines show up at his door in Norco, Calif., the Daily Beast reported

“I’m going on about 36 hours, I believe, that I’ve been up and I’m still in shock,” Steve Nikoui told Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight” Friday. “The family is devastated and his mother, who’s an excellent mom, is doing the best that she can, considering the circumstances.”

The elder Nikoui told The Daily Beast his son “loved what he was doing” and “always wanted to be a Marine.”

“He really loved that [Marine Corps] family. He was devoted — he was going to make a career out of this, and he wanted to go. No hesitation for him to be called to duty,” the dad said.

Kareem Nikoui
Kareem Nikoui would often visit home on the weekends with 10 or 15 of his Marine buddies.

Ahead of his deployment to Afghanistan, Kareem Nikoui was stationed nearby at Camp Pendleton and often visited home on the weekends, bringing along “10 or 15 other Marines” with him, the dad told the website. 

“My wife and I felt very honored that [since] these other boys weren’t around their homes, that we were able to provide some sort of family life for them,” he said.

On Friday night, Steve Nikoui criticized the sloppy execution of the US evacuation, and claimed his son and his fellow service members were caught in a “turkey shoot.”

“Basically, it’s funneled into like a single-file type [of] entry point at which, you know, if you have any sort of chaos of any sort, they would all gather to that one funneled area [in] which they would all be susceptible and I think that’s exactly what happened,” he told Tucker Carlson. “It was just basically so chaotic and not really planned out. Now, I’m a carpenter and even I could spot that with my untrained military eye.”

The elder Nikoui was more blunt in an interview with the Daily Beast, saying US officials “sent my son over there as a paper pusher and then had the Taliban outside providing security.”

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

The day before Kareem Nikoui was killed, he sent his dad a video that showed him talking with Afghan children and giving them candy at the Kabul airport. Steve Nikoui said Friday that the clip put him and his wife “at ease to where we felt like, he’s all right.”

“He was born the same year it started [2001], and ended his life with the end of this war,” Nikoui told The Daily Beast in reference to the Afghan war.

“I’m really disappointed in the way that the president has handled this, even more so the way the military has handled it. The commanders on the ground should have recognized this threat and addressed it.”

David Lee Espinoza, 20, Marines

David Lee Espinoza
David Lee Espinoza came from Texas before joining the military.

Espinoza, 20, was from Laredo, Texas, according to the Laredo Police Department

“Our thoughts and prayers will remain with the family of United States Fallen Marine, David L. Espinoza, as well as to his friends and fellow Marines,” the agency wrote in a Facebook post alongside a photo of Espinoza.

“Semper Fi. Thank you for your service.”

Espinoza graduated from Lyndon B. Johnson High School in Laredo and lived in Rio Bravo his entire life, KGNS reported.

“Mr. Espinoza, a Laredo Marine killed in Afghanistan, embodied the values of America: grit, dedication, service, and valor. When he joined the military after high school, he did so with the intention of protecting our nation and demonstrating his selfless acts of service,” Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) wrote on Twitter.

“I mourn him and all the fallen heroes in Afghanistan. My heart goes out to the Espinoza family in this extremely difficult time. The brave never die. Mr. Espinoza is a hero.”

Espinoza leaves behind a brother, mother, and stepfather, News 4 San Antonio reported.

Rylee McCollum, 20, Marines

Rylee McCollum, US Marine who was killed in Kabul airport attack
Rylee McCollum, one of the 13 soldiers who died, graduated high school two years ago.

McCollum, from Bondurant, Wyoming, was on his first deployment, had just gotten married, and was three weeks away from being a dad when he was killed in Thursday’s blast, according to the Casper Star-Tribune.

“He wanted to be a Marine his whole life and carried around his rifle in his diapers and cowboy boots,” McCollum’s sister Roice McCollum told the outlet. 

“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.” 

Rylee McCollum had just graduated from high school in 2019 and was manning an airport checkpoint when the bomb exploded, the outlet said. 

“Saying that I am grateful for Rylee’s service to our country does not begin to encapsulate the grief and sadness I feel today as a mother and as an American,” Wyoming Schools Superintendent Jillian Balow told the outlet. 

“My heart and prayers are with Rylee’s family, friends, and the entire Jackson community.”

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon tweeted about the death early Friday. 

“I’m devastated to learn Wyoming lost one of our own in yesterday’s terrorist attack in Kabul,” Gordon wrote.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Rylee McCollum of Bondurant. Jennie and I, along with all of Wyoming and the entire country thank Rylee for his service.”

Jared Schmitz, 20, Marines

Jared Schmitz
Jared Schmitz’s dad said his son always dreamed of being a soldier.

Schmitz was a lance corporal from St. Charles, Missouri, according to KMOX.

“His life meant so much more. I’m so incredibly devastated that I won’t be able to see the man that he was very quickly growing into becoming,” Schmitz’s father, Mark Schmitz, told the outlet. 

The heartbroken dad said his son, who always dreamed of being a soldier, was on his first deployment and was sent to Afghanistan from Jordan. He was notified of his son’s death at about 2:40 a.m.

Jared Schmitz
Jared Schmitz was on his first deployment when he was killed in the Kabul attack.

State Rep. Nick Schroer penned a Facebook post about the death.

“Today please pray for Lance Corporal Jared Schmitz who paid the ultimate sacrifice yesterday serving our nation,” Schroer wrote on Facebook. 

“This young marine was from St. Charles County and is a true American hero. Keep his family in your prayers today. Thank you for your service young man! God Bless you and your family, Marine.” 

Hunter Lopez, 22, Marine

Lopez was a Corporal who hailed from California and planned to follow in his parent’s footsteps and become a sheriff’s deputy once he was done with deployment, CBS Los Angeles reported.

Hunter Lopez was one of the Marines killed in the Kabul blast.
Hunter Lopez was one of the Marines killed in the Kabul blast.

The Riverside Sheriff’s Association released a statement on behalf of Lopez’s parents, Riverside Deputy Sheriff Alicia Lopez and Riverside Sheriff’s Captain Herman Lopez, the outlet reported.

Hunter Lopez
Hunter Lopez

“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. Hunter was a Riverside Sheriff’s Explorer Scout with the Palm Desert Station from September 2014 to August 2017,” the statement said.

The RSA said Lopez was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines “who answered the call to serve, defend and protect our nation.”

“Hunter was the victim of vicious evil and was killed because he wore a United States [Marine] uniform with love and pride. Our entire community feels the anguish, and we mourn the death of Hunter,” the statement continued.

“Like his parents who serve our community, being a Marine to Hunter wasn’t a job; it was a calling. He loved his family, and as we grieve for Hunter and his fellow Marines taken from us too soon, there are simply no words to express how deeply he will be missed — Semper Fi.”

The family asked for all donations to be made to the Riverside County Deputy Sheriff Relief Foundation.

Daegan Page, 23, Marines

Deagan Page, one of the Marine casualties from the ISIS-K bombing outside of the Kabul Airport
Daegan Page joined the Marines after high school.

Marine Cpl. Daegan Page was a native of Omaha, Neb., who loved hockey and hunting and “will always be remembered for his tough outer shell and giant heart,” his family said Friday.

Page, who joined the Marines out of high school, served with the 2nd Regiment of the 1st Marine Regiment, a unit known as “The Professionals” based at Camp Pendleton in Southern California.

Deagan Page, one of the Marine casualties from the ISIS-K bombing outside of the Kabul Airport
He planned to go to trade school after serving.

“Daegan always looked forward to coming home and hanging out with his family and many buddies in Nebraska,” the family statement said. “To his younger siblings, he was their favorite jungle gym and to his friends, he was a genuinely happy guy that you could always count on.”

Page hoped to go to trade school following the completion of his Marine service and is survived by his parents, step-parents, grandparents, four siblings, and his girlfriend Jessica.

Ryan Knauss, 23, Army

Ryan Knauss one of the Marine casualties from the ISIS-K bombing outside of the Kabul Airport
Ryan Knauss was the first US Army soldier ID’d.
Ryan Knauss one of the Marine casualties from the ISIS-K bombing outside of the Kabul Airport
Knauss was from Knoxville, Tenn.

The first US Army soldier identified as a victim of Thursday’s attack, Ryan Knauss was “a motivated young man who loved his country,” his grandfather said Friday. 

Knauss, who hailed from Knoxville, Tenn., had just completed Psychology Operations training and was hoping to move to Washington, DC, his stepmother Linnae told WATE.

“He was a super-smart, hilarious young man,” Linnae Knauss told WATE of her stepson, who joined the Army shortly after graduating from high school. She added to WBIR that Ryan enjoyed building things with his hands and helping his wife Alena tend to her garden. 

Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.) tweeted Friday that Ryan “gave his life outside Hamid Karzai International Airport helping people he didn’t know get to safety. This is what true heroism looks like and Ryan’s sacrifice will never be forgotten. The Knauss family is in my prayers.”

Grandfather Wayne Knauss described Ryan as a devout Christian who attended religious schools through the eighth grade. 

“He was a believer,” he said of his grandson, “so we will see him again in God’s heaven.”

Darin Taylor Hoover Jr., 31, Marines

Darin Taylor Hoover Jr., one of the Marine casualties from the ISIS-K bombing outside of the Kabul Airport
Taylor Hoover was from Utah.

Staff Sgt. Darin Taylor Hoover Jr., known as Taylor, was a former high school football player from Midvale, Utah who “lit up a room” when he entered, his father told The Washington Post.

“He was the most loving, giving, an understanding person you could ever meet,” the elder Darin Taylor told the paper. He added that since he was informed of his son’s death, he had received messages of condolences from other Marines who had Taylor as their sergeant. 

“They look back on him and say that they’ve learned so much from him,” Hoover said. “One heck of a leader.”

Other family members paid tribute to Hoover on social media.

Darin Taylor Hoover Jr., one of the Marine casualties from the ISIS-K bombing outside of the Kabul Airport
Hoover’s fellow Marines said he was “one heck of a leader.”

“Taylor spent his entire adult life as a Marine, serving,” one uncle, Jeremy Soto, wrote on Facebook. “Doing the hard things that most of us can’t do. He is a hero. Taylor is one of the 13 fallen in Afghanistan. We are wounded. We are bruised. We are angry. We are crushed … but we remain faithful.”

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox ordered flags at all state facilities and public grounds to be flown at half-staff through sunset Monday to honor Taylor’s memory, as well as the other Kabul attack victims.

“We are devastated to hear of the passing of Staff Sgt. Taylor Hoover, who served valiantly as a Marine and died serving his fellow countrymen as well as America’s allies in Afghanistan,” Cox said in a statement. “We honor his tremendous bravery and commitment to his country, even as we condemn the senseless violence that resulted in his death.”

Rep. Burgess Owens (R-Utah), whose district includes Midvale, tweeted that he was “devastated and heartbroken over the brave soldiers who lost their lives. 

“But, I’m also angry,” Owens added. “Angry that this was avoidable and is the direct result of a feckless administration with no backbone.” 1 of 3

Darin Taylor Hoover Jr., one of the Marine casualties from the ISIS-K bombing outside of the Kabul Airport
Taylor Hoover was a Marine “his whole adult life,” family said.
Darin Taylor Hoover Jr., one of the Marine casualties from the ISIS-K bombing outside of the Kabul Airport
Hoover’s father said he “did what he loved.”
Darin Taylor Hoover Jr., (and Mom) one of the Marine casualties from the ISIS-K bombing outside of the Kabul Airport
Taylor Hoover with his mom.

Hoover’s father told Fox 13 that his son “did what he loved, was leading his men and was with them to the end. He loved these United States and proved it by his service. We are so heartbroken and feel for the families of his fallen brothers as well. Our condolences go out to them in this trying time.”

Johanny Rosario Pichardo, 25, Marines

Sgt. Johanny Rosario
Sgt. Johanny Rosario was a member of the US Marine Corps’ Female Engagement Team
Johanny Rosario
Rosario was a native of Lawrence, Massachusetts

Sgt. Johanny Rosario, a native of Lawrence, Massachusetts was a member of the US Marine Corps’ Female Engagement Team, according to local reports.

She was a graduate of Lawrence High School and attended Bridgewater State University, according to CBS Boston. In May,  Rosario was honored by her unit, the Naval Amphibious Force, Task Force 51/5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, whose members were on the ground aiding in evacuations at the Kabul airport, WCVB reported

Lawrence Mayor Kendrys Vasquez said he had been in touch with the slain service member’s family “to extend mine and my family’s most sincere condolences and offer all of the aid that my administration can provide as they grieve this great loss.”

“At this time, the family’s most immediate wish is to be given privacy and that their loved one be recognized as the hero that she was,” he said.

Humberto Sanchez, 22, Marines

Cpl. Humberto Sanchez
Cpl. Humberto Sanchez was a 2017 graduate of Logansport High School in Indiana.

Cpl. Humberto Sanchez, of Logansport, Indiana, was just four years out of high school when he was killed.

Indiana Rep. Jim Baird identified Sanchez in social media posts Friday evening, writing that the Marine, a 2017 graduate of Logansport High School, “bravely answered the call to serve his nation.”

“I am both proud of his service and deeply saddened by his loss,” the congressman said.

“May we never forget Corporal Sanchez’s name or his heroism to a grateful nation. As the family grieves, I ask fellow Hoosiers to please join me in praying for his family during this incredibly difficult time.”

Indiana Sen. Mike Braun also mourned Sanchez, writing on Facebook to express his “condolences, prayers, and sincerest gratitude to the family of Hoosier Corporal Humberto Sanchez.”

“Corporal Sanchez is an American hero and his service and sacrifice will never be forgotten.”

Logansport Mayor Chris Martin, in a post that did not explicitly name Sanchez, said the fallen service member “had not yet even turned 30 and still had his entire life ahead of him.”

“Any plans he may have had for his post-military life were given in sacrifice due to the heart he exhibited in putting himself into harm’s way to safeguard the lives of others,” Martin wrote.

Nicole Gee, 23, Marines

Nicole Gee
Sgt. Nicole Gee, 23, was killed by a suicide bomber at the Kabul airport.

Marine Sgt. Nicole Gee loved her work – and told the world so, only a week before she died.

“I love my job,” the 23-year-old captioned an Aug. 20 photo on Instagram showing the young sergeant cradling a rescued Afghan infant in her arms.

Gee, a maintenance technician with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, was from Roseville, Calif., Stars & Stripes reported. She had been assigned to assist women and girls at Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport as they fled Taliban repression.

She last posted on Sunday — a photo of herself watching over a long line of evacuees as they boarded an airplane to flee Kabul.

“Escorting evacuees onto the bird,” Gee wrote with a heart emoji.

She was a “model Marine,” according to Capt. Karen Holliday, who mourned Gee’s death on her personal Facebook page.

“She was doing God’s work…..a warrior,” Holliday wrote, adding that Gee had recently earned a meritorious promotion to sergeant and boasted perfect fitness scores.

Sgt. Mallory Harrison, Gee’s roommate in the house they shared at North Carolina’s Camp Lejeune, posted a heartbreaking Facebook tribute to her friend late Friday.

“I find peace knowing that she left this world doing what she loved,” Harrison wrote. “She was a Marine’s Marine. She cared about people. She loved fiercely. She was a light in this dark world.”

But she couldn’t let go of the image of Gee’s car, which Harrison had been maintaining in her absence.

“Her car is still there, & she’s gone forever,” Harrison wrote.

Dylan Merola, 20, Marines

Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola arrived in Kabul less than two weeks before he was killed in Thursday’s attack, according to his older brother.

“Was notified last night,” the heartbroken sibling, David Merola, tweeted Saturday with a photo of the beaming Marine in fatigues. “RIP and say hey to dad & grandma for me.”

Dylan Merola was a graduate of Los Osos High School in California.

Merola, 20, of Rancho Cucamonga, Cal., and a graduate of Los Osos High School, was remembered as an enthusiastic member of the school’s theater tech crew by classmate Benjamin Gruchy.

“He always showed up with a smile and brought energy to everyone he was with,” Gruchy wrote in tribute on a GoFundMe campaign organized to assist Merola’s family.

Word of his death quickly spread through the school, whose students wore red, white, and blue at a Friday night football game to honor Merola’s sacrifice, the Orange County Register reported.

His mother Cheryl Merola said that her son planned to attend college and pursue engineering.

In his final text message to her, Dylan Merola said that he would not be able to call home during his evacuation assignment.

“He wrote … ‘I love you and I’ll talk to you soon,’” she told CBS 2 news.

“He was one of the best kids ever,” Cheryl Merola added. “Kind. Loving. Giving to every single person. He would give anything for anybody.”

All 13 US service members killed in the Kabul airport attack
“We continue to mourn the loss of these Marines and pray for their families.” Maj. Jim Stenger, a Marine Corps spokesperson, told The Post in an email. 

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