American soldiers killed in Kabul died like heroes: “The brave never die”


A young husband with a child on the way who one day wanted to teach history, another man who always wanted to serve in the military, and another who planned to become a sheriff’s deputy after his deployment were among 13 U.S. soldiers killed in a horrific suicide bombing at the Afghan airport in Kabul, which also claimed the lives of over 100 Afghans.

As military personnel went through the difficult task of informing the troops’ closest relatives, some of their names emerged on Friday before the government officially announced them. Eleven Marines, a Navy sailor and an Army soldier were among the dead, while 18 other U.S. servicemen were injured in Thursday’s bombing, attributed to the Afghan branch of the Islamic State group.

The United States has said it was the deadliest day for US forces in Afghanistan since 2011. The White House has said President Biden will seek opportunities to honor service members who have lost their lives. The victims include troops from California, Texas, Missouri and Wyoming.

Rylee McCollum, a Wyoming marine whose wife is expecting a baby in three weeks, was among those killed, his sister, Cheyenne McCollum, told The Associated Press.

“He was a Marine before he knew he was allowed to be a Marine,” Cheyenne McCollum said Friday. “He carried his toy gun and wore his sister’s pink princess snow boots and he hunted or he was a Marine.” Sometimes it would be without anything underneath, just a t-shirt.

“Everyone who met him just loved him,” she added. “He was so excited to be a dad, and he was going to be a great dad.” She said her brother wanted to be a history teacher and wrestling coach after he finished his service.

“We want to make sure that people know that it is the children who sacrifice themselves, and that he has a family that loves him and a wife who loves him and a baby that he will never be able to meet,” a- she declared.

Another sister, Roice McCollum, told the Casper Star Tribune that her brother was on his first deployment when the evacuation in Afghanistan began.

Lance Corporal Jared Schmitz, 20, was one of the other Marines who died in the attack. His father, Mark Schmitz, told KMOX radio that the Marines came to his home in Wentzville, Missouri at 2:40 a.m. on Friday to break the dreadful news to him.

Schmitz said his son, who grew up in the St. Louis area, was part of a group of Marines returned to Afghanistan to help with evacuation efforts.

“It’s something he always wanted to do, and I’ve never seen a young man train as hard as him to be the best soldier he can be,” Schmitz said of his son. “Her life meant so much more. I am so incredibly devastated that I will not be able to see the man he has become very quickly.

Herman Lopez, a 22-year-old whose parents work in the Sheriff’s Department in Riverside County in Southern California, was also among the Marines killed, the Sheriff’s Department confirmed on Friday. Sheriff Chad Bianco said Lopez was a Riverside Sheriff’s Explorer for three years before joining the Marine Corps in September 2017.

Bianco said Lopez plans to become a Riverside County Sheriff’s Deputy after his deployment.

The town of Norco, in Southern California, has confirmed that US Marine Corps Lance Corporal Kareem Mae’Lee Grant Nikoui was another casualty. The city said in a social media post on Friday that Nikoui is survived by his parents and siblings, and that his name will be inscribed on a commemorative wall in the city.

Norco Mayor Kevin Bash said he learned of the death Friday morning from a family member.

“He was a good boy, very calm,” Bash said, adding that “his goal in life was to be of service.”

Lance Corporal David Lee Espinoza, a 20-year-old Marine from Laredo, Texas, was also killed, U.S. Representative Henry Cuellar said on Friday.

Congressman Dana Youngentob’s press secretary said Pentagon officials visited Cuellar’s office in Washington to inform him of Espinoza’s death. Cuellar’s office also received an official death notice from the Pentagon.

In a statement, Cuellar said Espinoza “embodied America’s values: courage, dedication, service and bravery. 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. “

Cuellar concluded: “The brave never die. Mr. Espinoza is a hero.


Helen L. Cuellar

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