Anger and grief for family members of 13 US soldiers killed in Afghanistan


August 27 (Reuters) – Steve Nikoui was stunned by television reports on Thursday, desperately looking for clues. Her son Lance Corporal Kareem Nikoui survived the suicide bombing attack at the airport in Afghanistan when three Marines arrived at his door with the worst possible news.

The Marine, 20, who had sent home a video of himself giving candy to Afghan children the day before, was among 13 US servicemen killed in the bombing. Others included a future father from Wyoming, the son of a California policeman and a medic from Ohio.

“He was born the same year she started and ended her life with the end of this war,” Nikoui said from her home in Norco, Calif., Referring to the start of US military operations in Afghanistan in 2001.

The US Department of Defense has not officially announced the names of the servicemen killed in the Kabul airport attack, but details of their lives began to emerge on Friday when family and friends were informed.

Islamic State activists have claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing, carried out during a mass evacuation of American and foreign nationals as well as some Afghan civilians after the Taliban takeover.

Nikoui was waiting for a Navy liaison officer to come to his home on Friday to help him organize his flight with his wife to an Air Force base in Delaware, where their son’s body will arrive in. the next days.

He said he was angry.

“I am really disappointed with the way the president handled this, even more with the way the army handled it. The commanders on the ground should have recognized this threat and faced it,” Nikoui said.

Also among the soldiers killed was Rylee McCollum of Wyoming, a married Marine and father of a baby due in three weeks, his sister Roice said in a Facebook post on Friday.

“He wanted to be a Navy all his life and carried his gun in his diapers and cowboy boots,” his sister wrote, adding that he wanted to be a history teacher and wrestling trainer after leaving the military.

In addition to wrestling, McCollum played soccer before graduating from Jackson Hole High School in Wyoming in 2019.

“To say that I am grateful for Rylee’s service to our country does not begin to sum up the sorrow and sadness I feel today as a mother and as an American,” said the Superintendent of Instruction. public Jillian Balow in a statement. “My heart and prayers go out to Rylee’s family, his friends and the entire Jackson community.”

Regi Stone, whose son Eli enlisted around the same time as McCollum, described him as “smart, strong and courageous” and said he was comforted when the two hung out together.

“We always knew Rylee had his back and my son had his,” Stone told Reuters, adding that he had met McCollum on visits to their house for dinner. “He’s a defender. He loved his country and wanted to make a difference.”

OLD BROTHER COOL

Marilyn, the sister of the naval medic Max Soviak, described him as only a brother could.

“My handsome, smart, beating to his own drum, boring and charming little brother was killed yesterday while helping to save lives,” she wrote on Instagram

Soviak’s death was confirmed on Twitter by U.S. Senator Rob Portman from Ohio, the doctor’s home state.

Photos on Max Soviak’s Instagram page show him laughing on the beach, rock climbing, skiing and posing with two young children. “Not just an older brother, I’m the cool older brother,” Soviak wrote in 2019.

His last message was more disturbing.

“It’s kill or be killed, I’m definitely trying to be on the death side,” Soviak wrote on June 10.

The accompanying photo appeared to show him alongside two other uniformed soldiers holding weapons.

Hunter Lopez, 22, another Marine killed in the blast, was the son of a captain and deputy in the Sheriff’s Office in Riverside County, Calif., According to a Facebook post by Sheriff Chad Bianco. Lopez had planned to follow in his parents’ footsteps and become an MP when he returned home, the post said.

“I am incredibly saddened and heartbroken for the Lopez family as they mourn the loss of their American hero,” Bianco wrote in another post on his personal Facebook page.

The explosion also claimed the life of Utah Staff Sergeant Taylor Hoover, according to a Facebook post from his aunt, Brittany Jones Barnett. She and other relatives described him on social media as being brave and kind.

“The world has lost a real light. Our hearts are broken. Shock, disbelief, horror, sadness, sorrow, anger and sorrow,” she wrote.

Lance Corporal Jared Schmitz’s father, 20, called a local Missouri radio station on Friday to talk about his son’s death and his passion for military service.

“He wasn’t the type to sit down and finish his four years and walk away,” Mark Schmitz told KMOX. “He wanted to be in a situation where he was making a real difference.”

Schmitz said her son was stationed in Jordan before being called to Afghanistan two weeks before the attack.

The last publicly visible post on Jared Schmitz’s Facebook page was a photograph of him on July 29 at the archaeological site of Petra, Jordan. A friend commented that he hoped Schmitz would stay safe, to which Schmitz replied, “always my boy”.

Reporting by Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento, Timothy Reid in Los Angeles, Alexandra Ulmer in San Francisco, Nathan Layne in New York, Brendan O’Brien in Chicago and Julia Harte in New York; Additional reporting by Idrees Ali in Washington; Editing by Paul Thomasch, Will Dunham and Daniel Wallis

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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