The 13 U.S. service members killed in Afghanistan during an Aug. 26 outside Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul have been identified.
The Defense Department issued the names Aug. 26. All had been supporting Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, and the evacuation mission as the U.S. prepares to end operations in Afghanistan.
“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,” said President Biden in a statement Aug. 28. “Their bravery and selflessness has enabled more than 117,000 people at risk to reach safety thus far.”
Biden and first lady Jill Biden were on hand at Dover Air Force Base, Del., Aug. 29 for the dignified transfer of these fallen heroes. The president and first lady met privately beforehand with the families of the fallen.
Also on hand was Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
“These men and women made the ultimate sacrifice so that others could live,” said Austin. “They were and will be forever remembered as heroes.
“My heart and my thoughts are with their families, especially today,” he said during the dignified transfer at Dover Air Force Base, Del., Aug. 29. “They, too, have made the ultimate sacrifice.”
For the Marine Corps, the deceased are:
Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Darin T. Hoover, 31, of Salt Lake City, Utah.
Marine Corps Sgt. Johanny Rosariopichardo, 25, of Lawrence, Mass.
Marine Corps Sgt. Nicole L. Gee, 23, of Sacramento, Calif.
Marine Corps Cpl. Hunter Lopez, 22, of Indio, Calif.
Marine Corps Cpl. Daegan W. Page, 23, of Omaha, Neb.
Marine Corps Cpl. Humberto A. Sanchez, 22, of Logansport, Ind.
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. David L. Espinoza, 20, of Rio Bravo, Texas.
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jared M. Schmitz, 20, of St. Charles, Mo.
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Rylee J. McCollum, 20, of Jackson, Wyo.
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Dylan R. Merola, 20, of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Kareem M. Nikoui, 20, of Norco, Calif.
Hoover, Lopez, Page, Sanchez, Schmitz, Espinoza, McCollum, Merola and Nikoui were assigned to 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.
Gee was assigned to Combat Logistics Battalion 24, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.
Rosariopichardo was assigned to 5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, Naval Support Activity Bahrain.
For the Navy, the deceased is:
Navy Hospitalman Maxton W. Soviak, 22, of Berlin Heights, Ohio.
Soviak was assigned to 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton, Calif.
For the Army, the deceased is:
Army Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Knauss, 23, of Corryton, Tenn.
Knauss was assigned to 9th PSYOP Battalion, 8th PSYOP Group, Fort Bragg, N.C.
The 13 were aged between 20 and 31 years, with five of them just 20 years old. They include a 20-year-old Marine from Wyoming who had been expecting his first child in three weeks and a 22-year-old Navy corpsman who in his last FaceTime conversation with his mother assured her that he would stay safe because “my guys got me.”
The dignified transfer is not a ceremony; rather, it is a solemn movement of the transfer case by a carry team composed of military personnel from the fallen member’s respective service. A dignified transfer is conducted for every U.S. military member who dies in the theater of operation while in the service of their country. A senior ranking officer of the fallen member’s service presides over each dignified transfer.