Sacramento Native Sgt. Nicole Gee Among 13 Servicemembers Killed In Afghanistan Suicide Bombing

3 weeks ago 32
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SACRAMENTO (AP) — A pistillate who cradled a babe successful her arms astatine the airdrome and posted connected societal media that she loved her job. A young hubby with a kid connected the way. Another antheral who ever wanted to beryllium successful the military. A antheral who planned to go a sheriff’s lawman erstwhile his deployment ended. Heart-wrenching details person emerged astir immoderate of the 13 U.S. troops killed successful a horrific termination bombing astatine Afghanistan’s Kabul airport, which besides claimed the lives of much than 160 Afghans.

Eleven Marines, 1 Navy sailor and 1 Army worker were among the dead, portion 18 different U.S. work members were wounded successful Thursday’s bombing, which was blamed connected Afghanistan’s offshoot of the Islamic State group. The U.S. said it was the astir lethal time for American forces successful Afghanistan since 2011.

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Here are the stories of immoderate of the victims and the radical who are mourning them:


A week earlier she was killed, Sgt. Nicole Gee cradled a babe successful her arms astatine the Kabul airport. She posted the photograph connected Instagram and wrote, “I emotion my job.”

Gee, 23, of Sacramento, California, was a attraction technician with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit from Camp Lejeune successful North Carolina.

Sgt. Mallory Harrison, who lived with Gee for 3 years, wrote astir the magnitude of her loss.

“I can’t rather picture the feeling I get erstwhile I unit myself to travel backmost to world & deliberation astir however I’m ne'er going to spot her again,” Harrison wrote connected Facebook. “How her past enactment was taken doing what she loved – helping people. . Then determination was an explosion. And conscionable similar that, she’s gone.”

Gee’s Instagram leafage shows different photograph of her successful fatigues, holding a firearm adjacent to a enactment of radical walking into the belly of a ample transport plane. She wrote: “escorting evacuees onto the bird.”

Photos amusement her connected a camel successful Saudi Arabia, successful a bikini connected a Greek isle and holding a brew successful Spain. One from this period successful Kuwait shows her beaming with her meritorious promotion to sergeant.

Harrison said her procreation of Marines hears warfare stories from veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, but they look distant until “the peaceful interval you were connected turns into . your friends ne'er coming home.”

Gee’s car was inactive parked successful a batch astatine Camp Lejeune and Harrison mused astir each the Marines who walked past it portion she was overseas.

“Some of them knew her. Some of them didn’t.” she said. “They each walked past it. The warfare stories, the losses, the flag-draped coffins, the KIA bracelets & the heartbreak. It’s not truthful distant anymore.”


Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum, a Marine and autochthonal of Bondurant, Wyoming, was joined and his woman is expecting a babe successful 3 weeks, his sister, Cheyenne McCollum, said.

“He was truthful excited to beryllium a dad, and helium was going to beryllium a large dad,” McCollum said. She said her member “was a Marine earlier helium knew helium was allowed to beryllium a Marine. … He’d transportation astir his artifact firearm and deterioration his sister’s pinkish princess snowfall boots and he’d either beryllium hunting oregon helium was a Marine. Sometimes it would beryllium with thing connected underneath, conscionable a T-shirt.”

McCollum said her member wanted to beryllium a past teacher and a wrestling manager erstwhile helium completed his service. Another sister, Roice McCollum, told the Casper Star Tribune that her member was connected his archetypal deployment erstwhile the evacuation successful Afghanistan began.

“We privation to marque definite that radical cognize that these are the kids that are sacrificing themselves, and he’s got a household who loves him and a woman who loves him and a babe that he’ll ne'er get to meet,” Cheyenne McCollum said.

Regi Stone, the begetter of 1 of Rylee McCollum’s friends, described McCollum arsenic “a bully kid,” who was resilient, astute and courageous. Stone shared a enactment that his wife, Kim, sent to their lad Eli Stone, who is besides successful the subject and deployed elsewhere. Kim wrote that she remembered telling the friends to tally the different mode if they had to spell successful archetypal and that some of them said, “If we dice doing this, we dice doing what we love.”


Lance Cpl. Kareem Mae’Lee Grant Nikoui, of Norco, California, sent videos to his household hours earlier helium died, showing himself interacting with children successful Afghanistan. In 1 clip, helium asked a young lad to accidental hello.

“Want to instrumentality a video unneurotic buddy?” Nikoui said, leaning successful to instrumentality a video of himself with the boy. “All right, we’re heroes now, man.”

Family person Paul Arreola said the videos amusement “the bosom of this young man, the emotion helium has.”

“The household is conscionable heartbroken,” helium said. Arreola described Nikoui arsenic an “amazing young man” afloat of committedness who ever wanted to beryllium a Marine and acceptable retired to execute his goal. He is survived by his parents and 3 siblings.

“He loved this state and everything we basal for. It’s conscionable truthful hard to cognize that we’ve mislaid him,” helium said, crying.

Nikoui was besides successful the JROTC, and the Norco High School Air Force JROTC posted connected Facebook that helium was “one of our champion Air Force JROTC cadets” and that “Kareem was acceptable connected being a Marine & ever wanted to service his country.”


The emblem successful beforehand of the Ohio location wherever Navy Hospital Corpsman Maxton Soviak’s parents unrecorded was astatine half-staff and a dependable watercourse of visitors stopped by to wage their respects.

Soviak, of Berlin Heights, was remembered arsenic a affable feline who amused others.

“Max ever was smiling,” said Vince Ragnoni, his electrical exertion teacher. “Max was bully for pulling shenanigans and liked to get different radical to laugh.”

Soviak graduated from Edison High School successful 2017, wherever helium besides wrestled and played football. At Friday night’s shot game, fans honored him with a infinitesimal of silence.

He enlisted successful September 2017 and attended Hospital Corpsman School successful San Antonio, Texas, earlier postings successful Guam and astatine Camp Pendleton.

“He had conscionable joined the Navy and helium started telling maine astir what he’d beryllium doing,” Ragnoni said. “I told him I knew helium would bash large things. He was blessed and excited astir that.”


Marine Cpl. Humberto Sanchez was among 17 members of his Indiana precocious schoolhouse people who joined the subject aft graduation.

Sanchez played connected Logansport High School’s varsity shot squad and was successful the homecoming tribunal his elder year, Principal Matt Jones said. Jones called Sanchez a dedicated creator who took galore creation classes on with honors and dual recognition assemblage courses.

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“Humberto was a bright, diversion young antheral who was popular, well-liked by his shot teammates, classmates, coaches and teachers,” Jones said. “He was honored to beryllium putting connected the Marine azygous and serving his country.”


Marine Lance Cpl. Jared Schmitz grew up successful the St. Louis country and was among a radical of Marines sent backmost to Afghanistan to assistance with evacuation efforts, his father, Mark Schmitz, told KMOX Radio.

“This was thing helium ever wanted to do, and I ne'er seen a young antheral bid arsenic hard arsenic helium did to beryllium the champion worker helium could be,” Mark Schmitz said of his son. “His beingness meant truthful overmuch more. I’m truthful incredibly devastated that I won’t beryllium capable to spot the antheral that helium was precise rapidly increasing into becoming.”


Staff Sgt. Taylor Hoover, of Utah, had been successful the Marines for 11 years and was remembered arsenic a hero, his father, Darin Hoover, said.

“He gave his beingness protecting those that can’t support themselves, doing what helium loved serving his country,” said Darin Hoover, who lives successful a Salt Lake City suburb.

He said helium had heard from Marines who said they were grateful they had his lad arsenic their sergeant.

“They look backmost connected him and accidental that they’ve learned truthful overmuch from him,” Hoover said. “One heck of a leader.”

Hoover said his lad was besides a champion person to his 2 sisters and loved each his extended family. He had a woman successful California and was the benignant of feline who “lit up a room” erstwhile helium came in, his begetter said.

Nate Thompson of Murray, Utah, archetypal met Hoover erstwhile they were 10 years aged successful Little League football. They stayed friends done precocious school, wherever Hoover played lineman. He was undersized for the position, but his bosom and hard enactment much than made up for what helium lacked successful stature, Thompson said. As a friend, helium was selfless and kind.

“If we had occupation with grades, occupation with household oregon occupation connected the field, we ever called Taylor. He’s ever levelheaded, adjacent if he’s struggling himself,” helium said.


Cpl. Daegan William-Tyeler Page served successful the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment based astatine Camp Pendleton, California, and planned to spell to commercialized schoolhouse and perchance go a lineman aft his enlistment ended, his household said successful a statement.

Page was raised successful Red Oak, Iowa, and successful the Omaha country and joined the Marines aft graduating from Millard South High School. He is mourned by his girlfriend, parents, stepmom and stepdad, 4 siblings and grandparents, the household connection said.

“Daegan volition ever beryllium remembered for his pugnacious outer ammunition and elephantine heart,” the connection said. “Our hearts are broken, but we are thankful for the friends and household who are surrounding america during this time.”


Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo was being mourned successful the Massachusetts mill municipality of Lawrence she called home, the state’s superior and her birthplace successful the Dominican Republic.

“We volition not let her to beryllium forgotten,” said Jaime Melendez, manager of veterans services successful Lawrence, wherever Rosario attended precocious school.

Rosario served with the Naval Amphibious Force, Task Force 51/5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, which praised her enactment arsenic proviso main this spring.

Sonia Guzmán, the Dominican Republic’s ambassador to the United States, tweeted that the Caribbean federation shares successful the loss.

“Peace to your soul!” she tweeted successful Spanish.


Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss was remembered arsenic a comic antheral who loved his state and was looking guardant to coming location and moving to Washington, D.C., relatives told WATE-TV successful Knoxville, Tennessee.

“He was a super-smart hilarious young man,” said stepmother Linnae Knauss.

Knauss had been stationed astatine Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and helium was portion of the 9th Psychological Operations Battalion, 8th Psychological Operations Group, the Defense Department said.

“A motivated young antheral who loved his country,” his grandfather, Wayne Knauss, told the TV station. “He was a believer, truthful we volition spot him again successful God’s heaven.”


Cpl. Hunter Lopez, whose parents enactment astatine the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department successful Southern California, was a sheriff’s Explorer for 3 years earlier joining the Marine Corps successful September 2017, Sheriff Chad Bianco said.

Bianco said Lopez planned to travel successful his parents’ footsteps and go a Riverside County Sheriff’s Deputy aft his deployment.


Lance Cpl. David Lee Espinoza, a Marine from Laredo, Texas, joined the subject aft precocious school, and was being remembered arsenic a leader by his mother.

“He was conscionable brave capable to spell bash what helium wanted and to assistance retired people. That’s who helium was, helium was conscionable perfect,” his mother, Elizabeth Holguin. told the Laredo Morning Times.

In a statement, U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar said Espinoza “embodied the values of America: grit, dedication, service, and valor. When helium joined the subject aft precocious school, helium did truthful with the volition of protecting our federation and demonstrating his selfless acts of service.”

Cuellar concluded, “The brave ne'er die. Mr. Espinoza is simply a hero.”


Melley reported from Los Angeles and Hanson reported from Helena, Montana. Associated Press writers Janie Har successful San Francisco, Amy Forliti successful Minneapolis, Terry Wallace successful Dallas, Lindsay Whitehurst and Brady McCombs successful Salt Lake City, and Darlene Superville successful Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press.

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