The 13 U.S. service personnel killed during a suicide bombing at Afghanistan’s Kabul airport on Thursday represent a cross-section of Americans, all with compelling stories.
Eleven Marines, one Navy sailor and one Army soldier were among the dead, while 18 other U.S. service members were wounded in Thursday’s bombing.
The Department of Defense released the names of the victims in a news release.
Here is a look at the 13 people who lost their lives.
Staff Sgt. Darin T. Hoover
Darin Taylor Hoover Jr., 31, was from Salt Lake City. He had been in the Marines for 11 years.
His father told KSTU that he was notified of his son’s death when Marine staff sergeants came to his house on Thursday night.
“He did what he loved, was leading his men and was with them to the end,” Darin Hoover Sr. said about his son. “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.”
Hoover was a 2008 graduate of Hillcrest High School in Midvale and played football for the school, according to KSTU.
Jeremy Soto, Hoover’s uncle, posted about his nephew on Facebook, calling him a hero.
“We are wounded. We are bruised. We are angry. We are crushed … but we remain faithful,” Soto wrote.
Sgt. Johanny Rosariopichardo
Johanny Rosariopichardom 25, was from Lawrence, Massachusetts. She graduated from Lawrence High School, WFXT reported.
In a Facebook post Friday night, Lawrence School Committee member Jonathan Guzman said Rosariopichardo was a classmate, friend, and Lawrence High School alumni who was “a wonderful person with a kind heart.”
“It hurts to see a classmate, a friend, LHS alumni, a young lady, a proud Lawrencian, a wonderful person with a kind heart taken from this world by the hands of hatred!” Guzman wrote. “Johanny Rosario, your city will honor you! That is a promise! Thank you for your patriotic service! My heart goes out to your family during this unwelcome event, as well as the other 12 soldiers who died in Afghanistan.”
We will not allow her to be forgotten,” Jaime Melendez, director of veterans services in Lawrence, told The Associated Press.
Rosariopichardo served with the Naval Amphibious Force, Task Force 51/5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, according to the AP.
Sonia Guzmán, the Dominican Republic’s ambassador to the United States, tweeted that the Caribbean nation shares in the loss.
“Peace to your soul!” she tweeted in Spanish.
Sgt. Nicole L. Gee
Nicole Gee, 23, of Roseville, California, lived in the Sacramento metropolitan area. She had been documenting her time in Afghanistan on her personal Instagram page, The Sacramento Bee reported.
A week before she was killed, Gee held a baby in her arms at the Kabul airport. Posting the photo on Instagram, she wrote, “I love my job.”
Her latest post on Instagram came on Aug. 22, four days before she was killed.
“Escorting evacuees onto the bird,” Gee wrote in the caption to her photo, which depicted her standing next to a long line of Afghan evacuees heading into a U.S. military aircraft.
Gee was a maintenance technician with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit from Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, according to The Associated Press.
Sgt. Mallory Harrison, who lived with Gee for three years, wrote about the magnitude of her loss, repeating that Gee’s car was “parked in our lot.”
“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.”
Cpl. Hunter Lopez
Hunter Lopez 22, of Indio, California, was the son of two Riverside County Sheriff’s deputies, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Lopez’s father, Capt. Herman Lopez, commands the Sheriff’s Department’s La Quinta station in Thermal, according to a statement by city officials.
“Our La Quinta family is in mourning today with the tragic loss of Hunter Lopez,” the statement said. “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.”
Lopez graduated from La Quinta High School in 2017 and served with the Sheriff’s Department’s Explorer program from September 2014 to August 2017, Riverside Sheriff Chad Bianco said in a statement.
Cpl. Daegan W. Page
Daegan William-Tyeler Page, 23, was from Omaha, Nebraska. He joined the Marines in 2019 after graduating from Millard South High School, KETV reported.
Page grew up in Red Oak, Iowa, and in the Omaha-metro area, WOWT reported.
“He enjoyed playing hockey for Omaha Westside in the Omaha Hockey Club and was a diehard Chicago Blackhawks fan,” Page’s family said in a statement. “He loved hunting and spending time outdoors with his dad, as well as being out on the water. He was also an animal lover with a soft spot in his heart for dogs.”
Red Oak Mayor Bill Billings mourned Page’s death in a statement.
“We all share in the sorrow of this loss with the family and send our thoughts and prayers,” Red Oak Mayor Bill Billings said in a statement. “Daegan served his country with honor and gave the ultimate sacrifice to aid others.”
Cpl. Humberto A. Sanchez
Humberto Sanchez, 22, of Logansport, Indiana, was among 17 members of his high school class who joined the military after graduation, according to The Associated Press.
Sanchez played on Logansport High School’s varsity soccer team and was in the homecoming court his senior year, Principal Matt Jones said told the news organization. Jones called Sanchez a dedicated artist.
“Humberto was a bright, athletic young man who was popular, well-liked by his soccer teammates, classmates, coaches and teachers,” Jones told the AP. “He was honored to be putting on the Marine uniform and serving his country.”
“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 posted 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.”
Lance Cpl. David L. Espinoza
David Lee Espinosa, 20, of Rio Bravo, Texas, was a graduate of Lyndon B. Johnson High School.
“He was my hero,” his mother, Elizabeth Holguin, told the Laredo Morning Times. “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.”
Holguin told the newspaper that her son enlisted in the Marines after graduating from high school in 2019. It was something he always wanted to do, but his mother said she worried about him going even though she supported his decision.
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.”
“The brave never die,” Cuellar added. “Mr. Espinoza is a hero.”
Rio Bravo officials also offered their condolences and prayers to the family, the Morning Times reported.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of one of our own,” Rio Bravo City Commissioner Amanda Aguero said. “We sent our prayers to his family in these tough times.”
Lance Cpl. Jared M. Schmitz
Jared Schmitz, 20, of St. Charles, Missouri, grew up in the St. Louis area and returned to Afghanistan to assist with evacuation efforts, his father, Mark Schmitz, told KMOX Radio.
“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 told the radio station. “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.”
Lance Cpl. Rylee J. McCollum
Rylee J. McCollum, 20, of Jackson, Wyoming, was sent to Afghanistan on his first deployment when the U.S. evacuation began, his sister, Roice McCollum, told the Casper Star-Tribune. According to his sister, Rylee McCollum was manning a checkpoint at Hamid Karzai International Airport when the bombing occurred, the newspaper reported.
McCollum, who was born in February 2001, was originally from Bondurant, a small community about 45 minutes from Jackson, the Star-Tribune reported. Roice McCollum said he was expecting a baby in three weeks, the newspaper reported.
Rylee McCollum was a former student of Jackson Hole High School, a 2019 graduate of Summit Innovations School and a high school wrestler, the Jackson Hole News & Guide reported.
“He wanted to be a Marine his whole life and carried around his rifle in his diapers and cowboy boots,” Roice McCollum told the Star-Tribune. “He was determined to be in (the) infantry. 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.”
Lance Cpl. Dylan R. Merola
Dylan Merola, 20, of Rancho Cucamonga, California, as a graduate of Los Osos High School. On Friday, students at the school honored him during the school’s first football game of the season by wearing red, white and blue, The Press-Enterprise reported.
“Dylan was a beloved son, brother, grandson, great-grandson, nephew, a great friend, and a brave soldier who paid the ultimate sacrifice at the Abbey Gate at Hamid Karzai International Airport during the evacuation,” friend Joseph Matsuoka wrote as part of a GoFundMe page for the family.
“One of the best kids ever,” his mother, Cheryl Merola, told KCBS. “Kind, loving … he would give anything for anybody.”
Cheryl Merola said her son had been in Kabul for only two weeks, the television station reported. She said his last text message was vague as he talked about his outfit preparing to move.
’“He wrote ‘I won’t be able to talk for a little while, we’re being sent to a different location.’” Cheryl Merola, told KCBS. “‘I love you and I’ll talk to you soon.’”
Lance Cpl. Kareem M. Nikoui
Kareem Mae’Lee Grant Nikoui, 20, of Norco, California, sent videos to his family hours before he died, showing himself interacting with children in Afghanistan, according to the Los Angeles Times. In one video, Nikoui asked a young boy to say hello.
“Want to take a video together, buddy?” Nikoui said. “All right, we’re heroes now, man.”
Nikoui graduated from Norco High School in 2019 and served in the Junior ROTC, the newspaper reported, citing a statement from Norco city officials.
Paul Arreola, a close family friend, told The Associated Press the videos show “the heart of this young man, the love he has.”
“The family is just heartbroken,” Arreola said, describing his friend as an “amazing young man” full of promise who always wanted to be a Marine and set out to achieve his goal.
“He loved this country and everything we stand for. It’s just so hard to know that we’ve lost him,” he said.
Norco city officials said Friday they planned to enshrine Nikoui’s name on the “Lest We Forget Wall” at George A. Ingalls Veterans Memorial Plaza, the Times reported.
Norco High School Air Force JROTC posted on Facebook that he was “one of our best Air Force JROTC cadets” and that “Kareem was set on being a Marine & always wanted to serve his country.”
Hospitalman Maxton W. Soviak
Navy Hospitalman Maxton Soviak, 22, was from Berlin Heights, Ohio. Knauss was assigned to the 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, at Camp Pendleton, California.
He was a 2017 graduate and an honor roll student at Edison High School, the Sandusky Register reported.
Soviak played football in high school and later earned a two-year certificate in electrical technology from EHOVE Career Center, the newspaper reported.
Soviak was a lifeguard at Castaway Bay and also worked as a maintenance technician at Alarming Concepts in Sandusky and at Hartland Mechanical in Norwalk, according to the Register.
“On behalf of the entire Soviak family, we want to thank all those who have extended their support and prayers on the loss of our son, Max,” the Soviak family said in a statement. “Max was a wonderful son who loved his family, his community, and was proud to serve in the U.S. Navy. He was excited about the opportunities the Navy would offer him and planned to make the Navy a career. We are incredibly proud of his service to our country.
“Words cannot express how heartbroken we are with this news and we will miss Max tremendously. We are struggling to come to grips with this personal tragedy and prefer to grieve with close family and friends. Maxton was an awesome young man,” the statement continued. “His final words to his mother over FaceTime when he was telling her goodbye was after she told him to be safe, were, “Don’t worry, Mom, my guys got me. They won’t let anything happen to me.”
Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Knauss
Knauss, 23, was from Corryton, Tennessee. He was assigned to 9th PSYOP Battalion, 8th PSYOP Group, in Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
“He was a super-smart hilarious young man,” his stepmother, Linnae Knauss, told The Associated Press.
His former teacher at Gibbs High School, Angela Hoffman, told WATE-TV that Knauss, who had dreams of joining the military, always “had a very quiet but confident demeanor.”
Hoffman, who taught Knauss for one semester in 2012, said she assigned an essay to the class, asking students to write about who they were.
“In his essay, he wrote nine years ago almost to this date that for him a role model is anyone who stands up against power to help others,” Hoffman told WATE. “He wrote that nine years ago as a 14-year-old boy, not knowing the man he was going to become. And that was just so powerful to find this in my handwritten notes from nine years ago that he shared that as a 14-year-old as being something that he wanted his teachers to know about him.”