The U.S. Defense Department has not formally announced the names of the service members killed in the deadly airport suicide bombing at Kabul airport in Afghanistan but details of their lives began to emerge on Friday (August 27) as family and friends were notified.
Lance Corporal Kareem Nikoui, a 20-year-old Marine, who the previous day had sent home a video of himself giving candy to Afghan children, was among 13 U.S. service members killed in the bombing. Others included an expectant father from Wyoming, the son of a California police officer and a medic from Ohio.
Islamic State militants claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing, carried out during a massive evacuation of U.S. and other foreign nationals as well as some Afghan civilians following the Taliban takeover.
Also among the troops killed was Rylee McCollum of Wyoming, a Marine who was married with a baby due in three weeks, his sister, Roice, said in a Facebook post on Friday.
Along with wrestling, McCollum played football before graduating from Wyoming’s Jackson Hole High School in 2019.
Navy medic Max Soviak’s death was confirmed on Twitter by U.S. Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, the medic’s home state.
In Soviak’s Ohio hometown of Berlin Heights, Mayor Connie Ward told Reuters on Friday that the community was planning to display 1,200 American flags across town to show their support, but that they were going to give the family their privacy for now to grieve.
“What we’re trying to do is first and foremost be respectful of family and their wishes, which are now to be left alone,” she said.
Hunter Lopez, 22, another Marine killed in the blast, was the son of a captain and a deputy in the Riverside County, California, sheriff’s office, according to a Facebook post by Sheriff Chad Bianco. Lopez had planned on following in his parents’ footsteps and becoming a deputy when he returned home, the post said.
Thursday’s suicide blast was the most lethal incident for U.S. troops in Afghanistan in a decade.
Western forces running the Afghan airlift braced on Saturday (August 28) for more attacks after the United States launched a drone strike, apparently killing an Islamic State “planner” in the Kabul attack.
(Production: Megan Jelinger, Mike Blake, Mana Rabiee)