In Memoriam

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

May we never forget the 13 lost lives in Kabul. They are heroes and their leadership failed them during the withdrawal from Afghanistan. This is proof positive on why we need to pray for our governmental leaders as well as our military men and women.

Please see the below article copied from Military Times:

By Andrea Scott, August 28, 2021.

A Thursday attack outside the Hamid Karzai International Airport Kabul, Afghanistan, killed 13 U.S. service members supporting Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.

Eleven Marines, one Navy corpsman and one soldier were “killed as the result of an enemy attack while supporting non-combatant evacuation operations,” according to a Saturday press release from the Department of Defense, which released the names of the U.S. troops.

For the Marine Corps, the deceased are:

• Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo, 25, of Lawrence, Massachusetts, assigned to 5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, Naval Support Activity Bahrain.

“Her service was not only crucial to evacuating thousands of women and children, but epitomizes what it means to be a Marine: putting herself in danger for the protection of American values so that others might enjoy them,” Marine 1st Lt. John “Jack” Coppola said told the Boston Globe Saturday in a statement. “She is a hero, and her legacy will never be forgotten.”

Sgt. Johanny Rosariopichardo (Naval Amphibious Force, Task Force 51/5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade Facebook page)
Sgt. Johanny Rosario-Pichardo (Naval Amphibious Force, Task Force 51/5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade Facebook page)

Sgt. Nicole L. Gee, 23, of Sacramento, California, assigned to Combat Logistics Battalion 24, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

Gee entered active duty in the Marine Corps in 2017, according to a Facebook post from II Marine Expeditionary Force.

She was a ground electronics transmission systems maintainer assigned to Combat Logistics Battalion 24, a subordinate unit of Combat Logistics Regiment 27, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force.

Her military awards include the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal and the National Defense and Global War on Terrorism Service Medals.

Atlantic Ocean, April 5, 2021- U.S. Marine Corps Corporal Nicole Gee (left middle), a maintenance technician with 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), awaits the launch of an MV-22B Osprey during an en route care exercise aboard the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), April 5, 2021. 24th MEU, embarked with the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group, is forward deployed in the U.S. 6th fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe and Africa. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sergeant Mark E Morrow Jr/Released)

The other Marines were assigned to 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, California.

Maj. Gen. Roger B. Turner Jr., commanding general of the 1st Marine Division, said in a Saturday statement, “I extend my deepest, heartfelt condolences to the families, friends and loved ones of the 1st Marine Division servicemen who lost their lives while heroically safeguarding the evacuation of thousands of U.S citizens and faithful allies from Hamid Karzai International Airport.”

They “paid the ultimate price to defend our nation and extend the reach of freedom beyond our shores. We cherish the legacy these warriors leave behind and commit our resources to support the wounded and bereaved.”

The servicemen were members of 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, currently forward-deployed with the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force–Crisis Response–Central Command, which deployed in February and is scheduled to return later this fall, Turner said in a statement.

“They were tasked to assist with the evacuation of the U.S. Embassy, U.S. citizens, special immigrant visa applicants, and those Afghans who worked alongside us, served alongside of us, and provided invaluable assistance to us,” Turner said.

• Staff Sgt. Darin T. Hoover, 31, of Salt Lake City, Utah. His military occupational specialty was 0369, infantry unit leader.

His awards and decorations include the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Certificate of Commendation (Individual), Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, Letter of Appreciation, Meritorious Mast, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, NATO Medal-ISAF Afghanistan, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. Additional awards pending approval may include Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon and Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, according to a 1st Marine Division press release.

Staff Sgt. Darin Hoover

• Cpl. Hunter Lopez, 22, of Indio, California, a rifleman.

His awards and decorations include a Certificate of Appreciation, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, Letter of Appreciation, Meritorious Mast, National Defense Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. Additional awards pending approval may include Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon and Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.

Cpl. Hunter Lopez

• Cpl. Daegan W. Page, 23, of Omaha, Nebraska, a rifleman.

His awards and decorations include the Korean Defense Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. Additional awards pending approval may include Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon and Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.

Marine Cpl. Daegan Page

• Cpl. Humberto A. Sanchez, 22, of Logansport, Indiana, a rifleman.

His awards and decorations include the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. Additional awards pending approval may include Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon and Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.

Marine Cpl. Humberto Sanchez

• Lance Cpl. David L. Espinoza, 20, of Rio Bravo, Texas, a rifleman.

His awards and decorations include the National Defense Service Medal and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. Additional awards pending approval may include Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon and Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.

Lance Cpl. David Espinoza

• Lance Cpl. Jared M. Schmitz, 20, of St. Charles, Missouri, a rifleman.

His awards and decorations include the National Defense Service Medal and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. Additional awards pending approval may include Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon and Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.

Lance Cpl. Jared Schmitz

• Lance Cpl. Rylee J. McCollum, 20, of Jackson, Wyoming, a rifleman.

His awards and decorations include the National Defense Service Medal and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. Additional awards pending approval may include Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon and Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.

Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum

• Lance Cpl. Dylan R. Merola, 20, of Rancho Cucamonga, California, a rifleman.

His awards and decorations National Defense Service Medal and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. Additional awards pending approval may include Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon and Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.

Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola

• Lance Cpl. Kareem M. Nikoui, 20, of Norco, California.

His awards and decorations include the National Defense Service Medal and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. Additional awards pending approval may include Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon and Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.

Lance Cpl. Kareem Nikoui

For the Navy, the deceased is:

• Navy Corpsman Maxton W. Soviak, 22, of Berlin Heights, Ohio, assigned to 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton, California.

His awards and decorations include the National Defense Service Medal and Good Conduct Medal, Flag letter of Commendation. Additional awards pending approval may include Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon and Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.

Max was a wonderful son who loved his family, his community, and was proud to serve in the U.S. Navy,” his family said in a statement. “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 who was well liked in the community, as evidenced by the outpouring of condolences from teachers, coaches, employers, family and friends. He was always proud of being part of a state champion wrestling team and state playoff final four football team two years in a row, but he was most proud to be a Navy Corpsman and a ‘devil doc’ for the Marines.

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.’ Today she realized that they all just went together.”

Soviak leaves behind 12 brothers and sisters who “are all hurting terribly.”

“As we mourn the loss of our son, we also mourn for the loss of the Marines and Soldier who were killed and pray for the speedy recovery of all of those wounded in Afghanistan. As you can imagine, this is a very difficult time for our family and we respectfully request that you honor our privacy.”

Max Soviak

For the Army, the deceased is:

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

Army Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Knauss

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