- Thirteen US service members were killed at the Kabul airport on Thursday in a deadly ISIS-K suicide bombing.
- The Department of Defense released the names of all the servicemen killed on Saturday.
- Here is what we know about the fallen service members so far.
On Thursday morning, amid the mounting chaos at the Kabul airport, a deadly suicide bombing at a US checkpoint killed at least 170 Afghans and 13 American soldiers in a matter of moments.
It was the deadliest incident for US troops in the country in a decade, and the third-highest death toll for Americans in Afghanistan since the war began twenty years ago in 2001.
The Biden administration attributed the fatal explosion to the Islamic State’s Afghanistan affiliate, ISIS-K. The organization claimed responsibility for the attacks on Thursday evening.
On Saturday, the Department of Defense released the identities of all the soldiers killed in the attack. Families and lawmakers began confirming the deaths of the servicemen in Friday in mournful social media posts and media accounts.
Here is what we know about the victims so far.
Navy Hospitalman Max Soviak
Soviak’s sister Marilyn confirmed the death of her brother in a moving Instagram tribute on Friday morning.
“My beautiful, intelligent, beat-to-the-sound of his own drum, annoying, charming baby brother was killed yesterday helping to save lives,” she wrote on Instagram.
US Senator Rob Portman of Soviak’s native Ohio confirmed the young medic’s death on Twitter along with the Superintendent of Soviak’s former high school, from which he graduated in 2017.
“It is with deepest sorrow that I am sharing this news,” Edison Local School District 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.”
Photos on Soviak’s Instagram show him cliff-jumping in Guam, boating in San Diego, and hiking at the Grand Canyon.
But the final post on his account, shared on June 10, is a somber portent of what was to come.
“It’s kill or be killed, definitely trynna be on the kill side,” Soviak,22, wrote in the caption of a photo that appeared to show him and two other troops in uniform holding guns.
One of the other soldiers tagged in the photo was Marine Corporal Daegan Page.
Marine Corporal Daegan Page
—Abbie Petersen (@AbbieKETV) August 27, 2021
Family members of 23-year-old Page confirmed his death in a Friday statement.
“Daegan joined the US Marine Corps after graduating from Millard South High School,” the statement said. “He loved the brotherhood of the Marines and was proud to serve as a member of the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California.”
A longtime member of the Boy Scouts, the Iowa native’s family said Page enjoyed playing hockey, hunting, spending time outdoors with his dad, and being out on the water.
“He was also an animal lover with a soft spot in his heart for dogs,” his family’s statement said.
After his enlistment, Page’s family said he planned to return home to the Omaha area and go to a local trade school.
“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,” his family said.
Corporal Lance Kareem Nikoui
Steve Nikoui, Nikoui’s father, confirmed to Reuters that his son was among the dead in Thursday’s attack.
Steve Nikoui told the outlet he was desperately waiting for updates on his son following news of the explosion when three Marines arrived at his door in the middle of the night.
Nikoui was only 20 years old.
“He was born the same year it started, and ended his life with the end of this war,” Steve Nikoui told the outlet from his home in California.
His father said he was angry and disappointed in the way President Joe Biden handled the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, and said he believed commanders on the ground should have recognized the possibility of such a threat.
Nikoui’s Instagram is littered with photos of the young corporal in uniform among his fellow service members. He was one of at least two Marines from Riverside County, California that passed away in the tragic attacks.
Marine Corporal Hunter Lopez
Lopez, a 2017 graduate of La Quinta High School, was a 22-year-old Marine Corporal from La Quinta, California. He was the son of Riverside County Sheriffs’ Captain Herman Lopez and Riverside County Deputy Sheriff Alicia Lopez.
The Riverside County Sherriff’s Department announced Lopez’s death via Facebook. According to the post, Lopez planned on eventually becoming a Riverside County Sheriff’s Deputy, emulating his parents’ career paths.
“The Lopez family exemplifies the meaning of Service Above Self,” said Riverside County Sherriff Chad Bianco in a different Facebook post.
“Our La Quinta family is in mourning today with the tragic loss of Hunter Lopez, one of the fallen United States Service Members in the attack in Afghanistan,” the La Quinta mayor told The Desert Sun via email.
“They lost their lives in service to our country and to humankind,” Fourth District Supervisor V. Manuel Perez said in a statement on Friday in reference to Lopez and Nikoui. “This is devastating to our nation and to Riverside County, and our heartfelt condolences go out to the family and friends of these two heroes. During this difficult time, we pray for our nation and the safety of our military.”
Lance Corporal Rylee McCollum
McCollum was a newlywed with a baby due in three weeks, his sister Roice said in a Facebook post on Friday confirming his death.
“He wanted to be a marine his whole life and carried around his rifle in his diapers and cowboy boots,” his sister wrote, adding that he wanted to be a history teacher and a wrestling coach upon leaving the military.
—Elizabeth Landers (@ElizLanders) August 27, 2021
McCollum was born in 2001 and was still a baby when the US first invaded Afghanistan.
“He was a beautiful soul,” Jim McCollum told The New York Times. He said it had been his son’s dream to be a Marine since he was only 3 years old.
The Wyoming native graduated from Jackson Hole High School in 2019, where he wrestled and played football.
Jim McCollum told The Times he found some comfort in knowing his son was helping people when he died.
“I couldn’t be more proud of him,” he said. “He’s a hero.”
Marine Staff Sergeant Darin “Taylor” Hoover
Utah-born Hoover,31, graduated from Hillcrest High School in Midvale in 2008.
“He did what he loved, was leading his men and was with them to the end,” Hoover’s father, Darin Hoover, told local news station FOX13. “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.”
“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,” Utah Governor Spencer Cox tweeted on Friday evening. “We honor his tremendous bravery and commitment to his country, even as we condemn the senseless violence that resulted in his death.”
Hoover’s aunt shared her condolences alongside images of Hoover via Facebook.
Lance Corporal Jared Schmitz
Schmitz, from Wentzville, Missouri, was 20 years old when he lost his life in the terror attack in Kabul. He’d graduated from high school in 2019.
“This has just been absolutely devastating,” said Schmitz’s father, Mark Schmitz, to KMOX, a St. Louis radio station.
Schmitz was first deployed to Jordan and had recently been moved to Afghanistan, according to USA Today.
Missouri Rep. Nick Schroer referred to Schmitz as “a hero,” in a tweet.
“Be afraid of our leadership or lack thereof. Pray every day for the soldiers that are putting their lives at risk, doing what they love which is protecting all of us,” Mark Schmitz told KMOX.
—Benny (@bennyjohnson) August 27, 2021
David lee espinoza
—Alex Cano (@AlexCanoNews) August 27, 2021
Rep. Henry Cuellar on Friday confirmed 20-year-old Espinoza, from Laredo, Texas, was among the 13 dead in Thursday’s attack.
In a statement to the Associated Press, Cuellar said Espinoza “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.”
“The brave never die,” Cuellar said. “Mr. Espinoza is a hero.”
Family members o the service members did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment.
Marine Sergeant Johanny Rosariopichardo
Lawrence, Massachussetts Mayor Kendrys Vasquez said Rosariopichardo,25, was “a daughter of our city,” WCVB reported.
“Johanny Rosario was a special being in our community, full of light and armed with valor and bravery, who at the young age of 18 decided to raise her hand to serve our country as a member of the United States Marine Corps,” Vasquez told WCVB.
Marine Sargent. Nicole Gee
A few days before she died, Gee,23 posted a photo to Instagram showing her holding an Afghan baby with the caption “I love my job.”
In a Facebook post, The City of Roseville said she graduated high school in 2016 and enlisted in the Marines the year after. Her husband Jarod Gee is also a Marine.
In a Facebook post, Mallory Harrison honored her friend.
“How her last breath was taken doing what she loved—helping people—at HKIA in Afghanistan. Then there was an explosion. And just like that, she’s gone,” Harrison wrote.
Marine Corporal Humberto Sanchez
In a Twitter post, Logansport High School principal Matt Jones thanked Sanchez,22, and a 2017 graduate for “serving our country in uniform and sacrifice.”
—Matt Jones (@Berry_Principal) August 28, 2021
“He bravely answered the call to serve his nation, and I am both proud of his service and deeply saddened by his loss,” Indiana Rep. Jim Baird said of Sanchez in a Facebook post. “May we never forget Corporal Sanchez’s name or his heroism to a grateful nation.”
Marine Lance Corporal Dylan Merola, 20
Merola’s mother, Cheryl Merola, said he was kind and loving, CBSLA reported.
Merola was 20 years old when he died.
“My deepest condolences go out to Lance Corporal Merola’s family and loved ones, and to the families of all of the service members who lost their lives in this attack. My heart is heavy knowing three Inland Empire families are mourning, and I know our community stands with them,” Rep. Pete Aguilar said in a tweet.
Army Staff Sargent Ryan Knauss
Knauss’s family told WBIR, he enlisted shortly after graduating from Gibbs high school in 2016.
He was 23 years old.
“I mean, I shook his hand,” his former principal Jason Webster told the outlet.”I handed him the diploma and to know that he was going to sacrifice for me is just unbelievable.”