On Thursday, 13 United States service members were killed during an attack executed by the Islamic State terror group. Islamic State Khorasan, known as ISIS-K, claimed responsibility for the "martyrdom attack," which took place outside Kabul’s airport, where Americans in addition to allies were being evacuated from Afghanistan. At least 18 service members were injured.
On Saturday, the Department of Defense shared the names of the 13 service members who were killed during the attack in a news release.
The deceased from the Marine Corps include:
- Staff Sgt. Darin T. Hoover, 31, from Salt Lake City, Utah
- Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo, 25, from Lawrence, Massachusetts
- Sgt. Nicole L. Gee, 23, from Sacramento, California
- Cpl. Hunter Lopez, 22, from Indio, California
- Cpl. Daegan W. Page, 23, from Omaha, Nebraska
- Cpl. Humberto A. Sanchez, 22, from Logansport, Indiana
- Marine Corps Lance Cpl. David L. Espinoza, 20, from Rio Bravo, Texas
- Lance Cpl. Jared M. Schmitz, 20, from St. Charles, Missouri
- Lance Cpl. Rylee J. McCollum, 20, from Jackson, Wyoming
- Lance Cpl. Dylan R. Merola, 20, from Rancho Cucamonga, California
- Lance Cpl. Kareem M. Nikoui, 20, from Norco, California
In addition to the 11 fallen service members from the Marine Corps, Navy Hospitalman Maxton W. Soviak, 22, from Berlin Heights, Ohio, and Army Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Knauss, 23, from Corryton, Tennessee, were killed in the attack, as well.
Each of their deaths has been mourned across social media by family members, government officials, friends and strangers.
Here are the names and faces of the United States service members killed in the deadly attack:
Johanny Rosario Pichardo, 25
Rosario Pichardo was a U.S. Marine and Lawrence, Massachusetts, native.
Kendrys Vasquez, the mayor of Lawrence, tweeted a message remembering Rosario Pichardo on Saturday, writing in part, “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.”
Dylan R. Merola, 20
Merola, who is from Rancho Cucamonga, California, graduated from Los Osos High School and planned on attending college to study engineering, according to CBSLA. The 20-year-old had only been in Afghanistan for just over a week when he was killed in the attack.
In an on-camera interview, his mother, Cheryl Merola, said that her son was “one of the best kids ever ... kind, loving ... he would give anything for anybody.”
A GoFundMe was set up in the Marine’s honor and has already raised over $24,000.
Nicole L. Gee, 23
Gee was a sergeant in the Marines from Sacramento, California. Following her death, multiple tributes were left on her Facebook page.
“This young lady right here was one of the most squared away Marines I’ve had the pleasure to know!” one post read in part. “She was one of the ones KILLED a couple days ago in Afghanistan. I’ve been working with her from our office in Camp Lejeune for the past few years! She gave me a big hug last time I saw her.”
Another post from a fellow Marine referred to Gee as her “very best friend” and “sister forever” and recalled her love for her service until the very end.
“My best friend. 23 years old. Gone,” the post concluded. “I find peace knowing that she left this world doing what she loved. She was a Marine’s Marine. She cared about people. She loved fiercely. She was a light in this dark world. She was my person.”
Darin T. Hoover, 31
The U.S. Marines staff sergeant's father, Darin Hoover, confirmed that his son was one of the deceased service members in an interview with NBC affiliate KSL of Salt Lake City.
"He was helping those that are less fortunate, those that can't help themselves, serving his country — the one thing that he's always wanted to do," his father told KSL-TV.
Hoover had been in the Marines for 11 years at the time of his death and was on his third deployment to Afghanistan. As the oldest of three siblings and the first grandchild born on both sides of the family, Hoover was often looked up to by his siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews as a “born leader,” according to his father.
U.S. Rep. Blake Moore also released a statement on Facebook about Hoover’s death, writing in part, “We will be forever grateful for his sacrifice and his legacy.”
“He spent his last moments serving our state and our nation, and we will never forget his unwavering devotion,” Moore added.
Hunter Lopez, 22
The Riverside Sheriff's Association confirmed in a statement that Lopez was one of the 13 service members that died. His mother, Alicia Lopez, is the Riverside deputy sheriff and RSA board secretary and his father, Herman Lopez, is the Riverside sheriff captain.
After returning from his deployment, Lopez had planned on becoming a Riverside County sheriff’s deputy.
“Like his parents who serve our community, being a Marine to Hunter wasn't a job; it was a calling,” the statement from RSA read. “He loved his family, and as we grieve for Hunter and his fellow Marines taken from us too soon, there are simply no words to express how deeply he will be missed.”
Sheriff Chad Bianco also shared a post on Facebook about Lopez’s death, writing a touching tribute to the young Marine.
“I am unbelievably saddened and heartbroken for the Lopez family as they grieve over the loss of their American Hero,” Bianco wrote. “Our entire department is mourning this tragic loss. The Lopez family exemplifies the meaning of Service Above Self.”
Daegan W. Page, 23
Rep. Don Bacon of Nebraska released a statement confirming that the 23-year-old Omaha native was killed in the attack.
“No words can express the devastation, frustration, and sorrow his family is experiencing right now,” Bacon wrote. “I pray for the healing and comfort of his family and friends during this difficult time. Corporal Page is an American hero who gave the last full measure of devotion. He served his country honorably, and his service will never be in vain.”
Page graduated from Millard South High School in Omaha. In a Facebook tribute, the school remembered him as a "great patriot." In a statement provided by the school, his family shared that he joined the Marines because he "loved the brotherhood" of it.
"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," his family said.
"Daegan will always be remembered for his tough outer shell and giant heart," they added. "Our hearts are broken, but we are thankful for the friends and family who are surrounding us during this time."
David L. Espinoza, 20
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced in a tweet that he ordered that flags be lowered to half-staff to honor the service members who were killed in the attacks at the Kabul airport, remembering Espinoza by name in his message.
NBC affiliate KGNS of Laredo confirmed that while Espinoza was born in Laredo, Texas, he grew up in Rio Bravo. Both cities honored the fallen Marine in separate posts on Facebook.
The city of Laredo thanked Espinoza for his service in the post, adding, “Your acts of courage and bravery will always be remembered in our community.”
Gilbert Aguilar Jr., the mayor of Rio Bravo, shared a touching note on Facebook mourning Espinoza’s death, writing in part, “the difference he made will last forever.”
Jared M. Schmitz, 20
NBC affiliate KSHB from Kansas City, Missouri, reported that 20-year-old Schmitz was killed in Thursday’s suicide bombing. Mark Schmitz, his father, told St. Louis radio station KMOX that representatives from the Marines arrived at his home at 2:40 a.m. on Friday to confirm his son's death.
"His life meant so much more," Schmitz said of his son. "I'm so incredibly devastated that I won't be able to see the man that he was very quickly growing into becoming."
According to his father, Schmitz was sent back to Afghanistan to help with evacuation efforts.
State Rep. Nick Schroer and Sen. Josh Hawley both paid tribute the Marine on social media to honor his service and legacy.
Rylee J. McCollum, 20
Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon wrote on Twitter that he was “devastated” about the loss of McCollum, adding that all of Wyoming and the country thanked the young Marine for his service.
Jillian Balow, the state’s superintendent, released a statement surrounding the Jackson, Wyoming, native's death, reading in part, “We will find many ways to honor Rylee for this ultimate and untimely sacrifice in the coming months and years — but for now, my arms are wrapped around Rylee’s loved ones from afar and I pray they find some comfort.”
Kareem M. Nikoui, 20
Nikoui graduated from Norco High School in Norco, California, in 2019 and is survived by his mother, father and his siblings. His hometown paid tribute to the late Marine in a Facebook post confirming his death with a touching statement.
The post shared that his name will be enshrined on the “Lest We Forget Wall” located at the George A. Ingalls Veterans Memorial Plaza, which serves as a memorial to Norco natives who sacrificed their lives to serve the country.
Maxton W. Soviak, 22
The 22-year-old Ohioan was a corpsman in the Navy Fleet Marine Force Hospital. His mother confirmed her son’s death to the NBC affiliate WKYC from Cleveland, asking for privacy for her family during this time.
Sen. Rob Portman released a statement regarding Soviak’s death, calling the Berlin Heights native a “hero.”
Rep. Marcy Kaptur also shared a statement following the attack to honor Soviak's legacy, writing in the press release, "We will never be able to repay the debt we owe him, but we will be forever grateful for his willingness to serve when America needed him most."
Ryan C. Knauss, 23
Knauss’ family confirmed in an interview with NBC affiliate WBIR of Knoxville, Tennessee, that Knauss had died in Afghanistan. The soldier joined the military shortly after graduating from Gibbs High School.
His stepmother shared that the family received news of Knauss’ death sometime around 7:30 a.m. on Friday. She shared some of his favorite activities with the station, including his love of laughing, building things and helping his wife, Alena, in her garden.
Humberto A. Sanchez, 22
The Marine corporal was from Logansport, Indiana.
Logansport High School principal Matt Jones wrote on Twitter: "Tough day, Berry Nation- Been thinking a lot about 2017 Logansport Berry and Marine Humberto Sanchez and his family. Thank you for serving our country in uniform and sacrifice."
"Our corporation mourns the loss of US Marine Humberto Sanchez, a graduate of LHS," Logansport Community School Corporation tweeted. "We’re forever indebted to the service men and women who risk it all to protect others. We will never forget the names of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. Take care of each other, Berry Nation."
CORRECTION (Oct. 18, 2022): An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of Johanny Rosario Pichardo.