Final US flights leave Kabul before Taliban takes over

Final US flights leave Kabul before Taliban takes over: Jets depart before tomorrow’s midnight deadline after ISIS-K launched five rockets at airport

  • Seventeen flights will leave Hamid Karzai Airport on Monday carrying more than 3,000 people
  • The majority of those being flown out today are Afghans; the Pentagon is becoming more opaque on exactly how many people are leaving now and the aircrafts they are on 
  • On Monday morning, ISIS fired five Katyusha rockets at the airport – one was shot down by the US’s C-RAM weapons defense system
  • Three of the rockets missed the airfield and one landed inside the US perimeter but had ‘no effect’ 
  • On Thursday,  an ISIS suicide bomber killed 170 people including 13 US troops at the airport
  • To retaliate, the US launched a drone strike on Sunday that is believed to have killed 10 people including 7 kids
  • Every other Western nation has now left Afghanistan and the US has to be out by midnight tomorrow  
  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken will host a meeting with other nations on Monday at 2.30pm  

Some of the final US flights left Kabul on Monday despite the airport coming under fire from five ISIS rockets and as the threat of another attack grows stronger by the minute. 

Five rockets were launched at Hamid Karzai Airport on Monday morning from a sedan parked nearby. ISIS-K claimed responsibility for the attack, saying they used Katyusha rockets against the US troops still on the ground. 

No one is believed to have been killed in the attack; the US Army’s C-RAM missile defense system took out just one of the five rockets – a 20 percent success rate. Three missed the airfield and one landed inside but Pentagon officials said it had ‘no effect’ on the evacuation flights. 

The weapon defense system features a radar-controlled, rapid fire 20mm gun positioned atop a swiveling base on top of a trailer. It can be fired remotely and fires 4,500 rounds per minute.   

Between Sunday and Monday, 1,200 people were flown out on 26 US military flights and two coalition flights. As of Sunday, there were still 250 American citizens who wanted to leave but hadn’t yet. Another 280 had not yet decided if they were going to leave or stay behind to help Afghan allies.  

There are now just under 30 hours until the Taliban’s deadline of midnight, local time, on Tuesday night for the US to leave completely. Last week, Taliban spokesman Dr Suhail Shaheen said there ‘will be consequences’ if Biden doesn’t honor it. 

Pentagon officials refused to say how many Americans remain in the country, and who is being put on the last remaining flights.

Army Major General Hank Taylor said on Monday that equipment was now being flown out, but he and Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby did not say when troops will start evacuating, or if they had already.  

On Thursday, ISIS-K killed 169 people, including 13 US troops, in a suicide bomb attack at the airport.  

In retaliation, the US launched a drone strike on Sunday to kill the bombers responsible but 10 civilians – including seven kids – were also killed, according to The New York Times. 

Pentagon officials are refusing to confirm or deny the civilian attacks and they also won’t name the terrorists who were reportedly killed either. 

A US C-187 jet that can carry up to 800 people leaves Kabul on Monday. It’s unclear how many were on board. There are between 250 and 300 Americans still trapped in Afghanistan seeking a flight out but there are now just over 30 hours until the Taliban’s deadline to leave 

Two C-17s on the ground at Kabul airport on Monday. Flights took off every 20 minutes, one person on the ground said, but it’s unclear how many planes were there and how many more will leave today 

A girl stands next to a damaged car after multiple rockets were fired in Kabul on Monday

A Taliban fighter investigates a damaged car after multiple rockets were fired in Kabul on Monday

The rockets targeted the airport on Monday morning s the final US flights took off from Kabul. Other Western nations have now left the region because it is too dangerous to stay


The missile defense system used on Monday against the rockets launched at Kabul airport is the C-RAM – the Centurion Counter-Rocket, Artillery and Mortar defense system known to troops as R2 D2, after the Star Wars robot, which shoots down close-range rockets with a powerful machine gun that can fire up to 4,500 rounds per minute. 

They are used in predominantly civilian-heavy areas and use self-destructing rounds to limit the collateral damage on the ground. The C-RAM was developed in 2004 to react to the rapid acceleration of insurgency in Iraq and it’s based on the Navy’s Phalanx CIWS system.

It has a far shorter range than the Iron Dome, the system Israel uses to shoot down rockets fired by Hamas in Gaza, and is less effective but makes itself known with a piercing drill sound when in use.

A file image of C-RAM at Bagram airfield. The defense system is often referred to by troops as R2 D2. It is equipped with a radar that detects munition and evaluates it before firing M-940 20mm Multipurpose Tracer-Self Destruct (MPT-SD) rounds – up to 4,500 per minute –

The C-RAM sits on top of a trailer and is used to detect short-range rockets and artillery fire. It is controlled remotely and uses a radar system to detect threats

The Iron Dome shoots down munitions in excess of 40 miles, whereas C-RAM shoots down targets within 1-5 nautical miles. The C-RAM is also more maneuverable and less expensive than the Iron Dome.

Both use a radar system to detect, evaluate and take out approaching munitions. Ordinarily they are used across bases in the Middle East and southwest Asia, to protect troops. They are given an added layer of protection from the fact it can be controlled remotely. 

The Pentagon said on Monday morning that the C-RAM ‘successfully’ took out the five rockets launched at the airport.  

C-RAM systems have been known in the past to protect other, long-range missile defense systems but it only took out one of the five rockets launched. The other four didn’t make it to the field, Army General Major Hank Taylor said on Monday morning. 

The Pentagon would not say on Monday whether or not it would be removed from Kabul once the last planes leave. 

Israel’s Iron Dome system intercepted more than 90 percent of the rockets launched by Gaza earlier this year.  

Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system which took down 90 percent of the rockets fired by Gaza earlier this year and offers a wider protective shield of around 40 miles, as opposed to the C-RAM which protects within 1-5 miles

Israel’s Iron Dome defense system in action on May 12 during rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip 

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said at a briefing on Monday: ‘We are not in a position to dispute it… Make no mistake – no military on the face of the earth works harder to avoid civilian casualties than the US military. Nobody wants to see innocent life taken. 

‘We take it very, very seriously. When we know we have caused innocent life to be lost, we’re transparent about it. We’re investigating this – if we have verifiable information that we did take innocent life here, we will be transparent about that too. 

‘Nobody wants to see that happen but do you know what else nobody wants to see happen, we didn’t want there to be a very real, specific and imminent threat to the airport and our troops as well as civilians.’

Over the weekend, President Biden, who has been admonished for his handling of the withdrawal of troops, said another attack was ‘highly likely’ before the US completely pulled out.  

The rockets on Monday came from a car parked on a residential street next to the airport. It had been modified as a rocket launcher, and there were six homemade rocket tubes mounted in the place of backseats. 

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said on Friday that the final days of the rescue mission would focus on getting troops and equipment out of the area. It’s unclear how how many more civilian flights will leave.  

Senior officials said the U.S.  has the capacity to evacuate U.S. citizens remaining in Afghanistan who want to leave before Biden’s Tuesday deadline.

‘This is the most dangerous time in an already extraordinarily dangerous mission these last couple of days,’ America’s top diplomat, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, said Sunday not long before confirmation of the drone strike in Kabul. 

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement: ‘National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Chief of Staff Ron Klain have briefed the President on the rocket attack at Hamid Karzai International Airport. 

‘The President was informed that operations continue uninterrupted at HKIA, and has reconfirmed his order that commanders redouble their efforts to prioritize doing whatever is necessary to protect our forces on the ground.’ 

The withdrawal of US forces allowed the Taliban to regain power after an almost 20-year war. The President’s allies at home and abroad have openly accused Mr Biden of blindsiding them with his rush to exit by August 31 and slammed his bungled handling of the crisis. 

Afghan residents survey the damage done to a car and their homes by a US drone strike on Sunday that targeted ISIS-K but also killed three kids 

Afghan residents and family members of the victims gather next to a damaged vehicle inside a house, day after a US drone airstrike in Kabul on August 30, 2021

Smoke billows above Kabul after blast heard in Afghan capital

Videos posted after the rocket attacks appear to show fires burning on a street in Kabul

An Afghan journalist shows shrapnel, left, that fell onto the homes in Kabul’s Arya township after at least two rockets were fired toward the Kabul airport

Al Qaeda IS already back in Afghanistan: Bin Laden security chief and arms supplier Amin ul-Haq RETURNS to his hometown

A close aide of Osama bin Laden has returned to his home in Afghanistan after 20 years of US occupation just hours until American forces finish their evacuation from the war-torn country by President Joe Biden’s deadline, a video purports to show.

Amin ul-Haq, a top Al Qaeda arms supplier, returned to his hometown in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province on Monday just over two weeks after the Taliban completed its lightening fast offensive to take over nearly all of the country.

Ul-Haq headed bin Laden’s security when he was occupying the Tora Bora cave complex. The two men escaped together when US forces attacked the complex, according to NBC.

The Al Qaeda leader was killed by US forces in Pakistan in 2011.

A video appears to show top bin Laden deputy Amin ul-Haq’s return to his home town 20 years after he fled US forces

In the video, a car carrying ul-Haq is seen driving through a checkpoint amid a small crowd.

At one point the car stops and ul-Haq rolls down the window. Apparent admirers crowd the vehicle’s passenger side, with men taking turns grasping and even kissing the top Al Qaeda associate’s hand.

Two men take a few steps forward along with the slow-moving car in order to take a next to ul-Haq.

The car is then followed by a procession of vehicles carrying heavily-armed fighters, some flying the Taliban’s flag.

Asked about ul-Haq’s return to Afghanistan, the Pentagon told that it does not comment on intelligence matters.

His return in the last hours of the US withdrawal effort comes after roughly 122,300 people were evacuated since the end of July. Approximately 1,200 people were evacuated on US military and coalition flights as of Monday, bringing the total number of people moved out of Kabul since the Taliban’s takeover to 116,700.

Flights will continue on Monday – 17 jets are expected to take more than 3,000 people out of Kabul, the majority of whom are Afghan.

The US Treasury added ul-Haq to its list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists in 2001. He’s also sanctioned by the United Nations and the United Kingdom.

Since the militant group’s takeover, concerns have arisen that it would turn the country into a ripe environment for other terrorist organizations to grow.

Intelligence reports estimated an Al Qaeda resurgence within 18 to 24 months after the US withdrawal.

‘It is virtually certain that Al Qaeda will reestablish a safe haven in Afghanistan and use it to plot terrorism against the United States and others,’ former State Department coordinator Nathan Sales told the New York Times.  

On Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will host a virtual meeting to discuss a coordinated approach for the days ahead, as the U.S. completes its withdrawal from Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover of the country.

The meeting will also include Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, Turkey, the European Union and NATO. 

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan thundered that the US has shown in other countries that it is capable of ‘suppressing the terrorism threat… without a large permanent presence on the ground. 

‘And we will do that in Afghanistan as well as we go forward’. 

But untold numbers of vulnerable Afghans, fearful of a return to the brutality of pre-2001 Taliban rule, are likely to be left behind. 

There also are roughly 280 others who have said they are Americans but have not told the State Department of their plans to leave the country. 

Sullivan said that for those US citizens seeking to leave Afghanistan by Mr Biden’s deadline, ‘we have the capacity to have 300 Americans, which is roughly the number we think are remaining, come to the airport and get on planes in the time that is remaining’. 

He added: ‘We moved out more than that number just yesterday. So from our point of view, there is an opportunity right now for American citizens to come, to be admitted to the airport and to be evacuated safely and effectively.’ 

On the Monday rocket launches, a witness – who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals – said they heard the sound of three explosions and then saw a flash, like fire, in the sky and that people fled after the blasts.

Videos posted after the rocket attacks appear to show fires burning on a street in Kabul, though it was not immediately clear if they had been caused by the rockets. 

Other photos appear to show the car that had reportedly fired the rockets burned and damaged while Taliban fighters stood guard of it in Lab-e Jar. Photos of the vehicle appear to show some sort of piping in the rear passenger seats.

U.S. military cargo planes continued evacuations at the airport after the rocket fire. 

A Taliban spokesman said that a car bomb destined for the airport had been destroyed – and that a possible second strike had hit a nearby house on Sunday. has reached out to the State Department for more information and additional comment about the rocket attacks.

President Joe Biden has set a deadline of Tuesday to withdraw all US forces from Afghanistan, drawing to a close his nation’s longest military conflict, which began in retaliation for the September 11 attacks. 

Meanwhile, a Taliban spokesman condemned the United States for launching an attack in Kabul without informing it first, in an interview on China’s state television CGTN on Monday.

The spokesman told CGTN that it is unlawful for the United States to launch attacks in other countries at will. 

The return of the hardline Islamist Taliban movement, which was toppled in 2001 but took back power a fortnight ago, triggered an exodus of terrified people aboard US-led evacuation flights.

Those flights, which took more than 114,000 people out of Kabul airport, will officially end on Tuesday when the last of the thousands of American troops pull out.

But US forces are now focused chiefly on flying themselves and American diplomats out safely. 

The Islamic State group, rivals of the Taliban, pose the biggest threat to the withdrawal after carrying out a suicide bomb attack at the airport late last week that claimed more 170 lives, including those of 13 US troops. 

Biden had warned more attacks were highly likely and the United States said it carried out an air strike on Sunday night in Kabul on an explosives-laden vehicle. 

American officials said that a U.S. drone strike blew up a vehicle carrying ‘multiple suicide bombers.’ An Afghan official said three children were killed in the strike.

The United States has been accused of killing many civilians in air strikes throughout the war, one reason for losing local support.


The US Marine Corps posted a photo to Twitter Sunday evening, of the flag flag-draped caskets of their fallen brethren killed in Thursday’s suicide bomb attack in Kabul

U.S. President Joe Biden has been briefed about the rocket attacks and ordered operations to continue

Taliban fighters stand guard near a damaged car (not pictured) after multiple rockets were fired in Kabul on Monday

Damage and a car fire are seen after rockets were fired at the Hamid Karzai International Airport and intercepted by missile defense systems early in the morning on Monday

Taliban fighters investigate a damaged car after multiple rockets were fired in Kabul on Monday

A Taliban spokesman said that a car bomb destined for the airport had been destroyed 

The rear of the car is seen as Taliban fighters stand guard after multiple rockets were fired in Kabul on Monday

A Taliban fighter stands guard near a damaged car after multiple rockets were fired in Kabul on Monday

Afghans hoping to leave Taliban-controlled Afghanistan queue at the main entrance gate of Kabul airport

A satellite photo shows Kabul’s international airport as an evacuation flight taxis to the military side of the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan on Thursday

Biden slammed for appearing to check his WATCH during ceremony marking the return of 13 US troops killed in Kabul 

President Joe Biden is under fire after appearing to look at his watch just seconds after a salute honoring the return of the 13 US service members killed in Thursday’s ISIS-K suicide bombing in Kabul.

The president made the unannounced trip to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Sunday morning as the caskets of the 13 service members killed in the attack were brought back to the United States.

He stood in silence, his right hand to his chest, as a succession of flag draped transfer coffins were carried past him from a C-17 Globemaster plane.

But during the ceremony, Biden appeared to jerk his left arm up and look down at his watch, which sparked backlash from veterans and conservative commentators.

The 13 killed on Thursday were Navy corpsman Max Soviak, Army Staff Sergeant Ryan Knauss, and Marines Hunter Lopez, Rylee McCollum, David Lee Espinoza, Kareem Nikoui, Jared Schmitz, Daegan Page, Taylor Hoover, Humberto Sanchez, Johanny Rosario, Dylan Merola and Nicole Gee.

Their remains arrived at Dover Air Force Base, at 8am for a ‘dignified transfer,’ the solemn moment when fallen troops return to American soil. 

Biden’s apparent checking of his watch sparked fury among veterans, Republican politicians and commentators online. 

President Joe Biden is under fire for appearing to look at his watch during Sunday’s ‘dignified transfer’ onto American soil of the 13 American troops killed in Kabul attack

‘We are aware of reports of civilian casualties following our strike on a vehicle in Kabul today,’ Captain Bill Urban, a US Central Command spokesman, said in a statement.

Urban said the US military was investigating whether civilians were killed, noting there were ‘powerful’ explosions that resulted from the destruction of the vehicle.

‘We would be deeply saddened by any potential loss of innocent life,’ he said.

The strike on the vehicles, filled with explosives, is believed to have caused a secondary blast, killing and wounding several civilians.

An Afghan official, speaking on condition of anonymity out of security concerns, said that three children were among the dead. It is not known where the children killed in the incident were at the time of the explosion.

The death toll is expected to rise with Afghan TV presenter Muslim Shirzad reporting that as many as six children were dead and nine people in total, including an interpreter who had worked with US troops, and an Afghan army officer due to get married tomorrow.

The Taliban said it welcomed the drone strike in an apparent sign of uneasy co-operation on security around the airport. 

Two unnamed US officials earlier confirmed to Reuters that American forces had launched a successful strike in the capital city targeting suspected ISIS-K militants.

Dina Mohammadi said her extended family were in the building and that several of them had been killed, including children. 

Ahmaduddin, a neighbour, said he had collected the bodies of children after the strike, which set off more explosions inside the house.

There were earlier reports of a possible separate incident in which it was claimed a child had been killed in a rocket strike on a house near to the airport. It has since emerged this is the same event. 

A security official from the recently deposed government told AFP a house was struck while a source at the Afghan Ministry of Health separately told the BBC the blast was near the airport, with two witnesses informing Reuters a house north of the airport was struck by a rocket. 

There was no official confirmation and no terrorist group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. A US official told CBS: ‘We are confident we hit the target we were aiming for. Initial reports indicate there were no civilian casualties.’

The official added that the drone strike caused ‘significant secondary explosions’ indicating the presence of a substantial amount of explosive material in the vehicle.

Biden had previously warned another terror attack on the airport was imminent after an attack at Kabul airport carried out by ISIS-K – an Islamic extremist group operating in the Central Asian country – killed 13 American service personnel and scores of Afghans. 

Smoke rises after an explosion in Kabul, Afghanistan on Sunday, August 29, 2021

A destroyed vehicle is seen inside a house after a U.S. drone strike in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Sunday 

Army Major Gen. William D. ‘Hank’ Taylor said at a Pentagon briefing on Saturday that two ISIS-K targets had been killed and one wounded in the drone strike in Afghanistan

‘Gone, but never forgotten’: US Marines post photo of flag-draped caskets carrying bodies of troops killed in suicide bombing at Kabul airport 

The US Marine Corps has posted a photo on Twitter of the flag-draped caskets of their fallen brethren killed in Thursday’s suicide bomb attack in Kabul.

The shot shows the caskets being flown back to the US on a C-17 Globemaster military transport.

The caskets later arrived at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware for  a solemn transfer ceremony Sunday morning, which was attended by Joe Biden. 

The US Marine Corps posted a photo to Twitter Sunday evening, of the flag flag-draped caskets of their fallen brethren killed in Thursday’s suicide bomb attack in Kabul

The Corps tweeted: ‘Flag-draped transfer cases line the inside of a C-17 Globemaster II Aug. 29, 2021, prior to a dignified transfer at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. 

‘The fallen service members died while supporting non-combat operations in Kabul. Gone, but never forgotten.’

Eleven of the servicemembers killed in Thursday’s suicide bombing were Marines. They were: Hunter Lopez, Rylee McCollum, David Lee Espinoza, Kareem Nikoui, Jared Schmitz, Daegan Page, Taylor Hoover, Humberto Sanchez, Johanny Rosario, Dylan Merola and Nicole Gee.

Also killed were Navy corpsman Max Soviak and Army Staff Sergeant Ryan Knauss.

The Pentagon said a US drone mission in eastern Afghanistan killed two members of the so-called Islamic State group’s Afghanistan affiliate early on Saturday in retaliation for the airport bombing, and Mr Biden said the extremists can expect more.     

In a statement on Saturday, Mr Biden said: ‘The 13 service members that we lost were heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice in service of our highest American ideals and while saving the lives of others.

‘Their bravery and selflessness has enabled more than 117,000 people at risk to reach safety thus far. May God protect our troops and all those standing watch in these dangerous days.’ 

The evacuation of Americans proceeded as tensions rose over the prospect of another IS attack. The State Department issued a new security alert early on Sunday instructing people to leave the airport area immediately ‘due to a specific, credible threat’. 

Sullivan pledged the US ‘will make sure there is safe passage for any American citizen, any legal permanent resident’ after Tuesday, as well as for ‘those Afghans who helped us’.

He said the US would continue strikes against IS and consider ‘other operations to go after these guys, to get them and to take them off the battlefield’. 

He added: ‘We will continue to bring the fight to the terrorists in Afghanistan to make sure they do not represent a threat to the United States.’ 

The administration’s plan ‘is not to have an ongoing embassy presence in Afghanistan’, Mr Sullivan said. 

‘But we will have means and mechanisms of having diplomats on the ground there, be able to continue to process out these applicants, be able to facilitate the passage of other people who want to leave Afghanistan.’ 

The US Embassy said: ‘Due to a specific, credible threat, all U.S. citizens in the vicinity of Kabul airport (HKIA), including the South (Airport Circle) gate, the new Ministry of the Interior and the gate near the Panjshir Petrol station on the northwest side of the airport, should leave the airport area immediately.’ 

Before the warning was issued, Mr Biden vowed that his revenge strike for the terror attack is ‘not the last’ and added that the ‘situation on the ground continues to be extremely dangerous.’ 

Two U.S. officials told Reuters evacuations would continue on Monday, prioritising people deemed at extreme risk. Other countries have also put in last minute requests to bring out people under that category, the officials said.       

In recent years, the Islamic State’s Afghanistan-Pakistan chapter has been responsible for some of the deadliest attacks in those countries.

They have massacred civilians at mosques, public squares, schools, and even hospitals.

While both IS and the Taliban are hardline Sunni Islamists, they are bitter foes – with each claiming to be the true flag-bearers of jihad.

Afghan refugees, fleeing the Afghan capital Kabul, walk on the tarmac after disembarking from an US Air Force plane upon their arrival at Pristina International airport near Pristina, Kosovo on Sunday

U.S. Marines honor their fallen service members killed in action during a ramp ceremony at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul on Friday

Last week’s suicide bombing at the airport led to the worst single-day death toll for the US military in Afghanistan since 2011.

The IS threat has forced the US military and the Taliban to co-operate in ensuring security at the airport in a way unthinkable just weeks ago.

On Saturday, Taliban fighters escorted a steady stream of Afghans from buses to the main passenger terminal, handing them over to US forces for evacuation.

The Taliban have promised a softer brand of rule compared with their first stint in power, which the US military ended because they gave sanctuary to Al-Qaeda.

But many Afghans fear a repeat of the Taliban’s brutal interpretation of Islamic law, as well as violent retribution for working with foreign militaries, Western missions or the previous US-backed government.

Western allies have warned many thousands of at-risk Afghans have not been able to get on the evacuation flights.

On Sunday, the Taliban revealed their supreme leader Hibatullah Akhundzada was in southern Afghanistan and planning to make a public appearance.

‘He is present in Kandahar. He has been living there from the very beginning,’ said Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid.

‘He will soon appear in public,’ added deputy spokesman Bilal Karimi of the leader, whose whereabouts have remained largely unknown.

U.S.-backed forced ousted a Taliban government that had provided safe haven for al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who was finally killed by U.S. forces in Pakistan in 2011, and have involved in a counter-insurgency war against the Islamist militants for the past two decades.

The Taliban’s 1996-2001 rule was marked by a harsh version of sharia, Islamic law, with many political rights and basic freedoms curtailed and women severely oppressed.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid has said the group will announce a full Cabinet in the coming days, and that the difficulties will subside quickly once the new administration is up and running.

But with its economy shattered by decades of war, Afghanistan now faces a sudden halt in inflows of billions of dollars in foreign aid. 

PICTURED: All 13 US troops killed by ISIS-K suicide bomber during Kabul airport evacuation

On August 26, 2021, 11 Marines, one Navy corpsman, and one Army staff sergeant were killed in a suicide attack in Kabul that also claimed more than 160 Afghan lives. The US servicemembers were on a mission of mercy to evacuate at-risk Afghans after the disastrous US withdrawal led to a Taliban takeover. These are their stories:

Sgt. Nicole Gee, 23

Marine Sgt. Nicole Gee was was a maintenance technician with 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit from Roseville, California.

A week before she was killed, Gee cradled a baby in her arms at the Kabul airport. She posted the photo on Instagram and wrote, ‘I love my job.’ 

Sgt. Mallory Harrison, who lived with Gee for three years and called her a ‘sister forever’ and best friend, wrote about the magnitude of her loss.

‘I can’t quite describe the feeling I get when I force myself to come back to reality & think about how I´m never going to see her again,’ Harrison wrote on Facebook. ‘How her last breath was taken doing what she loved – helping people. … Then there was an explosion. And just like that, she’s gone.’

Marine Sgt. Nicole Gee, 23, is seen four days before she was killed, escorting Afghans on to a plane in Kabul

Just days before she was killed in the suicide blast, St. Nicole Gee was photographed holding an Afghan baby

Gee, 23, (left and right) of Roseville, California was among those killed in the attack on Thursday in Kabul 

Nicole Gee (left middle), a maintenance technician with 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), awaits the launch of an MV-22B Osprey during an exercise in April

Gee’s Instagram page shows another photo of her in fatigues, holding a rifle next to a line of people walking into the belly of a large transport plane. She wrote: ‘escorting evacuees onto the bird.’

The social media account that includes many selfies after working out at the gym lists her location as California, North Carolina and ‘somewhere overseas.’

Photos show her on a camel in Saudi Arabia, in a bikini on a Greek isle and holding a beer in Spain. One from this month in Kuwait shows her beaming with her meritorious promotion to sergeant.

Harrison said her generation of Marines hears war stories from veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, but they seem distant amid boring deployments until ‘the peaceful float you were on turns into … your friends never coming home.’

Gee´s car was still parked in a lot at Camp Lejeune and Harrison mused about all the Marines who walked past it while she was overseas.

‘Some of them knew her. Some of them didn´t.’ she said. ‘They all walked past it. The war stories, the losses, the flag-draped coffins, the KIA bracelets & the heartbreak. It´s not so distant anymore.’

Friends mourned Gee (right) whom they called a ‘model Marine’ and a ‘Marine’s Marine’

‘She cared about people. She loved fiercely. She was a light in this dark world. She was my person,’ said friend and fellow Marine Mallory Harrison in a Facebook post on Gee (center right)

‘She cared about people. She loved fiercely. She was a light in this dark world. She was my person,’ said Harrison in a Facebook post. 

‘I find peace knowing that she left this world doing what she loved. She was a Marine’s Marine,’ she said.

‘She was doing God’s work…..a warrior. Searching Afghan women and children trying to get out of country,’ Captain Karen Holliday said in a Facebook tribute.

Holliday called Gee a ‘Model Marine. A leader on the ground in a chaotic situation.’

She said that a photo released of Gee a few days before her death, showing her escorting Afghans onto a waiting plane, had been bombarded with sexist online comments ‘degrading her for being a female Marine.’  

Lance Corporal Dylan Merola, 20

Lance Corporal Dylan Merola, 20

Lance Corporal Merola was a Marine from Rancho Cucamonga, California. 

He was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, based in Camp Pendleton, California. 

The 20-year-old was a graduate of Los Osos High School, according to KABC-TV.

Students honored him at Friday night’s football game by wearing red, white and blue. 

‘Dylan was a beloved son, brother, grandson, great grandson, nephew, a great friend, and a brave soldier,’ said family friend Joseph Matsuoka on a GoFundMe page to raise money for his funeral.

Matsuoka said that Merola ‘paid the ultimate sacrifice at the Abbey Gate at Hamid Karzai International Airport during the evacuation.’ 

Sgt. Johanny Rosario, 25

Marine Sgt. Johanny Rosario, 25

Marine Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo was a Marine sergeant from Lawrence, Massachusetts assigned to 5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, Naval Support Activity Bahrain.

She was a graduate of Lawrence High School and attended Bridgewater State University. 

On social media, friends issued and outpouring of grief and devastation at Rosario’s death. 

Nastassia Hyatt, a former Marine, recalled Rosario helping her through difficult times in a Facebook post.

‘You brought me back to life. Back to life… back to life….’ Hyatt wrote. ‘I wish i could bring you back to life for just one last hug, one last smile, one last nap, one last meal… one last anything.’

‘She the second half of my heart next to my son. Like she’s everything to me. She is the greatest love I’ve ever known in a human besides my son. This one hit hard,’ Hyatt said. 

‘We are heartbroken by the death of the service men and women due to the bombing in Kabul this week. I and the City of Lawrence are particularly saddened that one of those brave souls was a daughter of our City,’ said Lawrence Mayor Kendrys Vasquez in a statement to WCVB-TV.

The Dominican Republic’s embassy in the United States tweeted that Rosario was originally from that Caribbean nation.

On social media, friends issued and outpouring of grief and devastation at Rosario’s death

Sonia Guzmán, the Dominican Republic´s ambassador to the United States, tweeted that the Dominican community shares in the loss.

‘Peace to your soul!’ she tweeted in Spanish.

Rosario served with the Naval Amphibious Force, Task Force 51/5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, which praised her efforts as supply chief this spring and thanked her for a job well done.

In Lawrence, Massachusetts, Mayor Kendrys Vasquez said he has been in contact with the family.

‘We are heartbroken by the death of the servicemen and women due to the bombing in Kabul this week,’ he said. ‘I and the city of Lawrence are particularly saddened that one of those brave souls was a daughter of our city.’

The family wishes for privacy ‘and that their loved one be recognized as the hero that she was,’ the mayor said.

Rosario (center) was a Marine sergeant from Lawrence, Massachusetts with the Naval Amphibious Force, Task Force 51/5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade

Melendez said people have strong feelings about the U.S. involvement that’s coming to an end after two decades in Afghanistan.

‘There are people on both sides of the fence. I get it,’ he said. ‘This is about one of our own, a daughter of Lawrence. For us it is definitely about her service and her family´s sacrifice. That´s what will be focusing on.’

‘I have been in touch with the family of the Lawrencian killed in action 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,’ the mayor said.

‘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.’ 

Hospitalman Maxton Soviak, 20 

Soviak, an Ohio native, joined the Navy after high school and became a hospital corpsman

Maxton William Soviak was a Navy corpsman from New Berlin, Ohio. He was assigned to 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton, California

Weeks before his death, he made a tragic Instagram post on June 10, sharing a photo posing with other service members in what is believed to be Afghanistan.

‘It’s kill or be killed, definitely trynna be on the kill side,’ he wrote in a comment on the post. Navy corpsmen often work alongside Marines, who do not have their own medics. 

Soviak’s sister Marilyn said in her own Instagram post that her brother was there to ‘help people’. 

‘My beautiful, intelligent, beat-to-the-sound of his own drum, annoying, charming baby brother was killed yesterday helping to save lives. He was a f***ing medic. There to help people and now he is gone and my family will never be the same,’ she wrote. 

‘He was just a kid. We are sending kids over there to die. Kids with families that now have holes just like ours,’ she added. ‘I’m not one for praying but d**n could those kids over there use some right now. My heart is in pieces and I don’t think they’ll ever fit back right again.’

Soviak was named as a casualty of the attack by his high school in Milan, Ohio, where 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.’ 

Maxton William Soviak (center), a medic in his early 20s, made this tragic post on June 10, writing ‘It’s kill or be killed, definitely trynna be on the kill side’. Marines Hunter Lopez (left) and Daegan Page (right) were also killed in the attack

Soviak’s sister Marilyn said an Instagram post that her brother was there to ‘help people’

Soviak took pride in his Navy service and worked alongside Marines in Afghanistan

In high school, Soviak was on the honor roll and played football. He was named as a casualty of the attack by his high school in Milan, Ohio

Soviak’s family confirmed his death to local media and have asked for privacy. 

In high school, Soviak was on the honor roll and played football, according to the Sandusky Register. 

Soviak was among the nearly 6,000 US troops now working frantically to evacuate Americans and Afghan refugees from Kabul, with just days remaining before President Joe Biden’s August 31 deadline to withdraw. 

Lance Corporal David Lee Espinoza, 20 

David Lee Espinoza, 20, was one of the Marines killed in the attack

David Lee Espinoza, was a 20-year-old U.S. Marine from Rio Grande, Texas.

His mother, Elizabeth Holguin, said: ‘He was a very good person. He served his country. He helped in any way he could. He was there (in Afghanistan), helping innocent people.’

This was his second deployment; he first made a trip to the Middle East and arrived in Afghanistan for about a week.

Holguin said she was uneasy about him being deployed there.

‘I prayed every day,’ she said.

He is one of four children; he is not married and has no children.

The mom last spoke with him Tuesday.

‘I just told him to be careful, that I was worried about him and I couldn’t wait for him to come back,’ Holguin said. ‘He told me he was fine and not to worry…. He was brave. If he was scared, he didn’t show it.’

She said she holds no animosity toward the president, saying her son ‘wanted to be there.’

Holguin learned her son was dead when she received a phone call Friday at 2.30am.

‘He was just brave enough to go do what he wanted and to help out people. That´s who he was, he was just 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 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.’

Lance Corporal Rylee McCollum, 20 

Marine Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum was killed in the attack

Marine Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum was named by his high school in Wyoming as a casualty in the attack. 

He was expecting to become a father and was pictured with his pregnant wife shortly before deploying to Afghanistan in April.

Cheyenne McCollum, Rylee’s sister, told her brother had wanted to be a Marine since he was a toddler – and that his own baby is due in just three weeks.

‘Rylee was an amazing, man with a passion for the Marines. He was a son, a brother, a husband and a father with a baby due in just 3 weeks,’ she said.

‘He wanted to be a marine his whole life and carried around his rifle in his diapers and cowboy boots.

‘He was determined to be in infantry and this was his first deployment. Rylee was sent to Afghanistan when the evac began. Rylee was manning the check point when he suicide bomb went off.

‘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.

‘To his friends and teammates and coaches, he was family. Rylee will always be a hero not just for the ultimate sacrifice he made for our country but for the way he impacted every life around him for the better. Making us stronger, kinder, teaching us to love deeper. We love you Rylee.’

Rylee McCollum graduated from Summit Innovations School in Jackson in 2019. 

Wyoming Schools Superintendent Jillian Balow said in a statement: ‘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.’ 

‘My heart and prayers are with Rylee’s family, friends, and the entire Jackson community,’ she added.

Rylee McCollum was named by his high school in Wyoming as a casualty in the attack

Rylee McCollum was due to become a father. He is pictured with his pregnant wife, right, shortly before deploying to Afghanistan in April

The Wyoming-born Marine’s wrestling coach and close family friend, Benjamin Arlotta said ‘heads should roll’ over the disastrous US exit and that the young soldier’s family is ‘absolutely broken’.

Arlotta told that even in diapers McCollum would stand watch on his porch with a toy rifle, first said he wanted to be a Marine aged eight, and signed up on his 18th birthday.

In a glowing eulogy to the young expectant father, whose new baby is due in three weeks, Arlotta described McCollum as a ‘personal hero’ and a ‘fantastic brother, fantastic uncle, and a wonderful friend’.

‘I was his wrestling coach since he was six. He was one of the best. A great kid, a great young man and an American patriot. He loved being a Marine,’ Arlotta said.

‘He was just a good man all around. We’re all hurting pretty bad.

‘It’s impossible. I’m sitting here with the family right now – with his dad and two sisters, his brother-in-law and niece. They’re shattered, they’re absolutely broken. The entire community is.’

Arlotta, 37, said he is furious at the Biden administration and blames the White House for putting soldiers in an unnecessarily dangerous position.

‘It’s a junk show, an absolute junk show. Not just for Rylee but for every serviceman and woman over there. They were put in a very terrible spot. In my opinion this entire circumstance has been mismanaged from every level,’ he told

‘The only thing I can hope for is that accountability isn’t forgotten. Because for the 13 men who were killed yesterday, heads need to roll for the way things have gone.

Benjamin Arlotta, and his wife, Talia, are long-time family friends of the McCollums. Benjamin said he is angry and devastated 

‘We’re just seeing the beginning of it. It’s not over, it’s only going to get worse. Everybody in the country needs to be praying for our servicemen and women right now. They have a scrap out in front of them.

‘Sadly those 13 Marines aren’t going to be the last ones to perish because of these terrible decisions that were made.’

Recalling fond memories of the young Jackson Hole native, the wrestling coach told a heartwarming story of McCollum’s determination.

‘When he was 13 he came into the competition season 32lbs heavier than where he wanted to be,’ Arlotta said.

‘He told me he would lose it. We made a bet. I was going to quit chewing tobacco if he could get down there. That was September, by the time the state championship rolled around in January he had made weight.

‘He entered the wrestling tournament at that weight and I quit chewing that day.

‘He was first and foremost a man of his word. If he said he would do something, by goodness gracious he stood right in front of you until he did it.’

McCollum moved to California for training. His pregnant wife Jiennah ‘Gigi’ Crayton lives in the San Diego area.

The 20-year-old lance corporal wanted to be a soldier since childhood, first telling his parents he would join the Marines age eight.

‘We were driving back from his first state wrestling tournament, I was riding with his family,’ said Arlotta. ‘We asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up, he said he wanted to be in the Marines.

‘He enlisted on his 18th birthday,’ the coach added. ‘When he actually enlisted his recruiter told him he could be anything, he could do any job. He swore up and down he wanted to be an infantryman.

‘If you know Rylee, you know you can’t talk him out of a damn thing, so that’s what he did.’

U.S. Congresswoman Liz Cheney, a fellow Wyoming resident, issued a statement when she learned of Rylee’s passing. 

‘I want to offer my deepest condolences to Rylee McCollum’s family and loved ones. His bravery and patriotism will never be forgotten. His willingness to put himself in harm’s way to keep our country safe and defend our freedom represents a level of selflessness and heroism that embodies the best of America. 

‘We know that the McCollum family is grieving this tragic loss. I ask that people in Wyoming and across the country please keep those close to Rylee in their prayers, and remember that we are only free because of the courage and valor of service members like him.’ 

Lance Corporal Jared Schmitz, 20

Marine Lance Corporal Jared Schmitz was a 20-year-old from Wentzville, Missouri

Marine Lance Corporal Jared Schmitz was a 20-year-old from Wentzville, Missouri. 

His father Mark Schmitz told KMOX the Marines notified his family about 2.40am on Friday about his son’s death. 

‘This was something he always wanted to do and I never seen a young man train as hard as he did to be the best soldier he could be,’ Mark Schmitz said.

The grieving father grew emotional as he spoke about his son, welling up with tears.  

‘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.’ 

Mark Schmitz slammed Biden and blamed him for his son’s death. 

‘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,’ Schmitz’s father said.

He added that he was relieved when his son signed up as a Marine when Trump was in office because he ‘really believed this guy didn’t want to send people into harm’s way.’ 

Jared Schmitz was killed in the attack

Lance Corporal Kareem Nikoui, 20

Marine Lance Corporal Kareem Nikoui was a native of Norco, California

Marine Lance Corporal Kareem Nikoui was a native of Norco, California.

Nikoui’s father Steve, a carpenter, vented his frustrations at Biden in an interview with the Daily Beast. 

‘They 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,’ he said

Steve Nikoui said he knew his son was dead when he saw two Marines approaching his home on Thursday at 7.15pm PST. 

He said he sat with the two emotional Marines, who cried more than he cried, and then had them leave. 

Steve also appeared on Fox with Tucker Carlson on Friday to further criticize Biden in an emotional interview where he said the attack could have been avoided. 

‘From what I saw of the airport that they’re in, looked like a Turkey shoot. It’s funneled in to a single file-type entry point at which if you have in sort of chaos of any sort, they would all like gather to that one funneled area, which they would all be accessed. That’s what happened. It was just basically so chaotic and not really planned out,’ Steve said.

As he teared up, he also said he was upset by how long it took to learn of his son’s death. 

‘How long does it take for the military to, you know, inform the next of kin?’ 

Marine Kareem Nikoui, pictured with his mother, was killed on Thursday. His father said he blames Biden for abandoning them in Kabul

‘I was actually trying to console them. But at the same time, I just wanted them to get out as soon as possible so that no one from my family came back and saw them.

‘I thought it appropriate that I be able to tell them,’ he said.

He added that his son, who was based at Camp Pendleton in California, would often bring other Marines home on the holidays if they couldn’t get back to their own families.

‘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 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,’ he said.

Speaking outside Kareem’s home on Friday, a relative told that Kareem’s family were inside signing the documents required to repatriate him. 

He added: ‘They’re totally devastated and they need some time. All the family are here and we’re supporting them.’ 

A steady stream of people have been seen coming and going from the home all day, among them some of Kareem’s colleagues from the Camp Pendleton Marine base in San Diego. 

Steve Nikoui, right, father the late Kareem Nikoui, spoke with Fox’s Tucker Carlson on Friday to condemn the Biden administration’s efforts in Afghanistan that he said led to his son’s death

An American flag flew half-mast outside Norco Intermediate School in honor of Nikoui

Kareem’s mother Shana Chappell posted angrily on social media, blaming Vice-President Kamala Harris for the loss of her son.  

At the social media message of condolence from the Vice-President, she wrote: ‘This c u next Tuesday is a joke! They are the reason my son is dead.’ 

Kareem’s death is also being mourned by his home city of Norco – a small community of 26,000 people nicknamed ‘Horsetown’ that sits 50 miles east of Los Angeles.

Confirming his death, the city released a message of condolence that read: ‘The City of Norco mourns the loss of Norco resident U.S. Marine Corps Lance Corporal Kareem Mae’Lee Grant Nikoui who was killed in action while stationed at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan on Thursday, August 26, 2021. 

‘The U.S. Marine, who graduated from Norco High School in 2019 and served in JROTC, was committed to serving his country and is survived by his mother, father and siblings.’ 

The city of Norco plans to honor Nikoui by placing his name on the ‘Lest We Forget Wall’ at the George A. Ingalls Veterans Memorial Plaza.

Lance Corporal Hunter Lopez, 22

Marine Lance Corporal Hunter Lopez 

Marine Lance Corporal Hunter Lopez, a native of California’s Coachella Valley and the son of two police officers, was also killed in the attack, Sheriff Chad Bianco confirmed.

‘I am unbelievably saddened and heartbroken for the Lopez family as they grieve over the loss of their American Hero,’ Bianco wrote. 

‘Hunter Lopez, son of our own Captain Herman Lopez and Deputy Alicia Lopez, tragically lost his life while serving our country in the United States Marine Corp. He was killed in Kabul, Afghanistan on Thursday, August 26th,’ the sheriff added.

‘Before joining the Marine Corp, Hunter proudly served in our Sheriff’s Explorer Program. Our entire department is mourning this tragic loss. The Lopez family exemplifies the meaning of Service Above Self.’ 

City of La Quinta issued a statement: ‘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,’

‘Hunter is the son of Captain Herman and Alicia Lopez, both members of the Riverside Sheriff’s Department. Captain Herman Lopez is our Police Chief and Captain over at the Thermal Station,’ the statement added.

‘We are all so humbled by the service and ultimate sacrifice that Hunter gave to protect our country. He was a brave and selfless soldier who answered the call to be a United States Marine. Like his parents, Hunter wanted to help serve others and protect his community.’  

Marine Hunter Lopez, a native of California’s Coachella Valley and the son of two police officers, was also killed, Sheriff Chad Bianco confirmed

‘The Lopez family exemplifies the meaning of Service Above Self,’ said the local sheriff 

‘I am unbelievably saddened and heartbroken for the Lopez family as they grieve over the loss of their American Hero,’ Bianco wrote of Hunter Lopez (above)

Staff Sgt. Taylor Hoover, 31

Marine Staff Sgt. Taylor Hoover, of Salt Lake City, Utah

Marine Staff Sgt. Taylor Hoover, of Salt Lake City, Utah, was another of the service members killed outside the Kabul airport, his family told KSL-TV. 

He was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, California. 

Friends and family mourned his loss, including fellow students who graduated in the Class of 2008 at Hillcrest High School with him in Midvale. 

‘Soooooo glad I got to see him before he left. I love you son!!! You’re my hero!! Please check in on us once in a while. I’ll try to make you proud!!’ Hoover’s father, Darin Hoover, wrote on Facebook.

‘My handsome nephew, Staff Sergeant Taylor Hoover. Taylor spent his entire adult life as a Marine, serving. Doing the hard things that most of us can’t do. He is a hero,’ Jeremy Soto, an uncle, wrote. 

‘We are wounded. We are bruised. We are angry. We are crushed… but we remain faithful. Thank you for your courage nephew. We love you always.’

‘Always a smile. Always respectful. A joy to be around. He is adored beyond measure. The world has lost a true light. Our hearts are broken. Shock, disbelief, horror, sadness, sorrow, anger and grief,’ Brittany Jones Barnett, an aunt, added. 

‘Thank you sweet boy for the ultimate sacrifice. For giving your life for us all. Fighting for freedom and giving absolutely everything you had. You will never ever be forgotten. We love you so much,’ she added. 

Marine Staff Sgt. Taylor Hoover, pictured holding a young family member, died in Kabul

Taylor Hoover, a Utah native, was mourned by his mother Kelly Barnett, left, and girlfriend, Nicole Weiss, right, following his death

‘He is a hero. He gave his life protecting those that can´t protect themselves, doing what he loved serving his country,’ said father Darin Hoover, who lives in a Salt Lake City suburb, in an AP interview.

He said he had heard from Marines who said they were grateful they had his son 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.’

Hoover said his son was also a best friend to his two sisters and loved all his extended family. He had a girlfriend in California and was the kind of guy who ‘lit up a room’ when he came in, his father said.

Hoover, center, was among the Marine troops in Afghanistan to helping with the evacuation 

Hoover pictured in his uniforms, ‘died a hero doing what he always wanted to do and was proud to do, ‘ a family member said

Nate Thompson of Murray, Utah, first met Hoover when they were 10 years old in Little League football. They stayed friends through high school, where Hoover played lineman. He was undersized for the position, but his heart and hard work more than made up for what he lacked in statute, Thompson said. As a friend, he was selfless and kind.

‘If we had trouble with grades, trouble with family or trouble on the field, we always called Taylor. He´s always level-headed, even if he´s struggling himself,’ he said.

U.S. Representative Blake Moore, who represents Utah’s 1st Congressional District, also mourned the loss of Hoover. 

‘We’ll be forever grateful for his sacrifice & legacy. He spent his last moments serving our state & nation, and we’ll never forget his unwavering devotion,’ he wrote in a statement. 

Utah Senator Mike Lee wrote in a statement, ‘Burying a child is a grief no parent should bear. Sharon and I mourn with the Hoover family and with all who loved [Hoover]… who gave the last full measure of devotion in Afghanistan. 

‘He died completing a mission to save his countrymen and civilians from evil and oppression. He lived the Marine Corps motto by living and dying always faithful.’

Utah residents tied fellow ribbons to flags in front of Hoover’s family home

Neighbor Lena McIllece helped arranged the flags to honor Hoover and the other fallen troops

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox ordered that flags be flown at half-staff at all state facilities and public grounds effective immediately until sunset on August. 30 to honor Hoover and all those who died in the recent attack. 

‘We are devastated to hear of the passing of Staff Sgt. Taylor Hoover. Staff Sgt. Hoover served valiantly as a Marine and died serving his fellow countrymen as well as America’s allies in Afghanistan. We honor his tremendous bravery and commitment to his country, even as we condemn the senseless violence that resulted in his death. Abby and I pray for Staff Sgt. Hoover, his family and loved ones during this most difficult time,’ Cox said in a statement.  

A family member told ABC 4 that Hoover, ‘died a hero doing what he always wanted to do and was proud to do, serve his country.  

Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss, 23 

Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss, 23, was a native of Tennessee

Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss, 23, was a native of Corryton, Tennessee. Knauss was assigned to 9th PSYOP Battalion, 8th PSYOP Group, Ft. Bragg, North Carolina.

He first was identified as one of the victims by his grandfather, Wayne Knauss. 

‘He grew up in a Christian home, attended Berean Christian school through 8th grade and spent, four years at Gibbs High [School],’ said Wayne about his grandson. ‘A motivated young man who loved his country. He was a believer so we will see him again in Gods heaven.’ 

Wayne told ABC 6 that Ryan had served right out of high school for five years with special training in Psychology Operations. 

Ryan’s stepmother, Lianne Knauss, added that Ryan told them he was looking forward to returning to the U.S. and moving to Washington D.C. 

‘He was a super-smart hilarious young man,’ she said. 

Knauss, 23, right, said he wanted to move to Washington D.C. when he returned 

Members of the Knauss family mourned Ryan’s death on social media

U.S. Representative Tim Burchett, a fellow Knoxville resident, also tweeted a tribute to the fallen marine. 

‘Ryan gave his life outside that 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 my prayers.’ Burchett wrote 

Diane Trulson Amundson Knauss also urged people to support Wayne and the troops in Afghanistan. 

‘Please pray for our military in Afghanistan and all over the world,’ she wrote. ‘Our hearts ache for Wayne and Neena… and all families.’ 

Corporal Daegan Page, 23 

Marine Corp. Daegan William-Tyeler Page, 23, was a native of Omaha, Nebraska

Marine Corp. Daegan William-Tyeler Page, 23, was a native of Omaha, Nebraska. 

In a statement, Page’s family confirmed that he was one of the slain service members at Kabul airport. 

‘Our hearts are broken, but we are thankful for the friends and family who are surrounding us during this time,’ the family said. 

‘Daegan’s girlfriend Jessica, his mom, dad, step-mom, step-dad, 4 siblings, and grandparents are all mourning the loss of a great son, grandson, and brother.’ 

Page grew up in Omaha and Red Oak, Iowa. He enjoyed playing hockey for Omaha Westside in the local hockey club and was a diehard Chicago Blackhawks fan.

He also oved hunting and spending time outside with his father. 

His family said he was a longtime Boy Scout who was eager to join the U.S. Marine Corps. 

‘Daegan joined the U.S. Marine Corps after graduating from Millard South High School. 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.’  

Corp. Daegan William-Tyeler Page died in the Kabul airport bombing attack

Page, left, was a Marine and member of the 2nd Battalion Marine Regiment

They added that Page was looking forward to coming home to see his family and friends. He also had plans to go to trade school, contemplating a career as a lineman. 

‘Daegan will always be remembered for his tough outer shell and giant heart. Our thoughts and prayers are also with the other Marine and Navy families whose loved ones died alongside Daegan,’ the family said. 

Shana Nicole, a friend of Page, added that ‘the world lost an amazing hero. 

‘My heart hurts for everyone who knew Daegan. He was so so kind always,’ she wrote on Facebook. 

The Omaha, Nebraska, native was looking forward to returning home, his family said 

Page, center, hoped to reunite with friends back home and go to trade school

Page, third from the left, rear, was drawn to the sense of brotherhood within the Marine Corps 

U.S. Congressman Jeff Fortenberry, who represents Page’s home district, also issued a statement mourning the loss of the young marine. 

‘I was just notified about the death of Marine Corporal Page. My heart was already broken over our country’s loss of 13 service members in Afghanistan. Now the loss is even harder,’ Fortenberry said. 

‘God bless Corporal Page. He saved lives and served his country honorably. His life was cut short but had ultimate meaning. By his bravery and will, many others will have a chance. I send my heartfelt condolences to his family.’ 

Corporal Humberto Sanchez, 22 

Marine Corp. Humberto Sanchez was among those killed

Officials in Indiana confirmed that Corp. Humberto Sanchez was also among the dead.

Sanchez graduated from Logansport High School in 2017. He also attended Columbia Elementary.

‘Like many, I have been heartbroken over the recent loss of the 13 U.S. service members who were murdered in the terrorist attacks against our evacuation efforts in Kabul, Afghanistan,’ Logansport Mayor Chris Martin said in a statement on Facebook.

‘Even more heartbreaking is learning the news today that one of those killed was from right here at home in Logansport, Indiana.

‘This young man 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.’

Adrian Gazcon, a friend, also wrote a tribute on Twitter for Sanchez, saying that ‘it hurts that he’s gone.’ ‘Thank you for your service, you’re a hero bro.’  

Sanchez pictured carrying friend Rhiannon Rickerd while attending Logansport High School

A friend posted a tribute to Sanchez when he learned about his death


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