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Douglas Andrews / August 30, 2021

Remembering Thirteen Americans

In the wake of last Thursday’s murderous attack, we owe ourselves a look back at the warriors we’ve lost.

There’s a belief, commonly held by older generations, that the ones behind them don’t quite measure up. Then, sometimes and sadly, we’re reminded just how wrong we are. Such is the case when we read about the 13 warriors taken from us in Afghanistan on 26 August, in a murderous attack that we knew was coming. Their blood is on Joe Biden’s hands.

They are:

  • Marine Corps Lance Cpl. David Espinoza, 20, of Rio Bravo, Texas, who Congressman Henry Cuellar said “is certainly one of those examples of what we have here at the border: a young man that went across the world trying to get Americans and allies of the U.S. to safety.”

  • Marine Corps Sgt. Nicole Gee, 23, of Roseville, California, who’s featured in a viral image that speaks a thousand words, and about whom a dear friend wrote: “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.”

  • Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Darin Taylor Hoover, 31, of Utah, the oldest of the fallen, who, in his dad’s words, “did what he loved doing, serving the United States.”

  • Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss, 23, of Corryton, Tennessee, who when he was in second grade drew himself in uniform and wrote in his yearbook, “I want to be a Marine.”

  • Marine Corps Cpl. Hunter Lopez, 22, of Indio, California, whose mother is a deputy sheriff and whose father is a sheriff’s captain, and who had plans to join them as a sheriff’s deputy after his deployment.

  • Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum, 20, Jackson, Wyoming, who got married earlier this year on Valentine’s Day, who “signed up the day he turned 18,” said his sister Roice, and who was “cast-iron tough,” said his longtime wrestling coach.

  • Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Dylan R. Merola, 20, of Rancho Cucamonga, California, whose two great-grandfathers fought in the Korean War and who “wanted to serve his country,” said his grandmother. “It’s all he talked about in high school.”

  • Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Kareem Nikoui, 20, of Norco, California, who was “an incredible individual with a great heart,” said a close family friend, and whose death leaves his family devastated and calling on their faith to help them persevere.

  • Marine Corps Cpl. Daegan William-Tyeler Page, 23, of Omaha, Nebraska, who was a Boy Scout, an animal lover, and a Chicago Blackhawks fan, and who his family says “will always be remembered for his tough outer shell and giant heart.”

  • Marine Corps Sgt. Johanny Rosario, 25, Lawrence, Massachusetts, who friends and fellow Marines described as “a beautiful person inside and out” and “a great mentor to her junior Marines.”

  • Marine Corps Cpl. Humberto Sanchez, 22, Logansport, Indiana, who a lifelong friend says “was a light that was on 24/7” and “was constantly joking, constantly laughing, constantly trying to make people smile.”

  • Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jared Schmitz, 20, of Wentzville, Missouri, who, according to his father, was on his first deployment and had always wanted to serve his country. “His life meant so much more,” he said. “I’m so incredibly devastated that I won’t be able to see the man that he was very quickly growing into becoming.”

  • Navy Hospital Corpsman Max Soviak, 22, of Berlin Heights, Ohio, who, as a corpsman, was a medic for combat Marines, who was an accomplished wrestler and football player, who was a “beautiful, intelligent … annoying, charming baby brother,” and whose parents, perhaps in the spirit of a corpsman, were selfless enough “to offer condolences to the families that also lost a loved one [and] a speedy recovery to those that were injured.”

The New York Post also has a rich series of pictures and profiles here.

“Every death in war is heartbreaking,” writes the Wall Street Journal editorial board, “and especially when the mission that killed them didn’t have to happen the way it did. But their service is also reassuring for showing that millions of young Americans are still willing to sacrifice to defend their country and its principles. We’ll wager that they didn’t wait in the locker room when the national anthem was played. They represent the best of America.”

Let’s mourn these fine young Americans gone. Then let’s collect ourselves. Then let’s think about them fondly, and thank God that they lived.

(Updated.)

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