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By Shawn Raymundo
Ten U.S. troops deployed from Camp Pendleton were among the 13 servicemen and servicewomen who died in last week’s suicide bombing at the Kabul airport in Afghanistan.
The nine Marines and one Navy Corpsman were part of Camp Pendleton’s 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, and they had been securing the Abbey Gate at the Hamid Karzai International Airport the morning of the deadly terrorist attack.
Eighteen other U.S. troops were injured in the blast that killed more than160 Afghan civilians.
This past Saturday, Aug. 28, the Department of Defense released the names of 13 service members: 11 Marines, a Navy hospital corpsman, and an Army staff sergeant.
- Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Darin T. Hoover, 31, of Salt Lake City, Utah
- Marine Corps Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo, 25, of Lawrence, Massachusetts
- Marine Corps Sgt. Nicole L. Gee, 23, of Sacramento California
- Marine Corps Cpl. Hunter Lopez, 22, of Indio, California
- Marine Corps Cpl. Daegan W. Page, 23, of Omaha, Nebraska
- Marine Corps Cpl. Humberto A. Sanchez, 22, of Logansport, Indiana
- Marine Corps Lance Cpl. David L. Espinoza, 20, of Rio Bravo, Texas
- Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jared M. Schmitz, 20, of St. Charles, Missouri
- Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Rylee J. McCollum, 20, of Jackson, Wyoming
- Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Dylan R. Merola, 20, of Rancho Cucamonga, California
- Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Kareem M. Nikoui, 20, of Norco, California
- Navy Hospitalman Maxton W. Soviak, 22, of Berlin Heights, Ohio
- Army Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Knauss, 23, of Corryton, Tennessee
Soviak, along with Marines Hoover, Lopez, Page, Sanchez, Schmitz, Espinoza, McCollum, Merola and Nikoui, had been deployed from Camp Pendleton.
The troops’ remains arrived on Sunday, Aug. 29, to Dover Air Force Base, where President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden gathered with a small group of other dignitaries to pay tribute to the fallen service members in what’s referred to as a dignified transfer.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III on Sunday said in a statement that “these men and women made the ultimate sacrifice so that others could live. They were and will be forever remembered as heroes. My heart and my thoughts are with their families, especially today. They, too, have made the ultimate sacrifice.”
Rep. Mike Levin (D-Calif) echoed the sentiment in a prepared statement last Friday, Aug. 27.
“These Marines are heroes who were saving lives and protecting their fellow Americans and Afghan allies,” he said. “Their service and sacrifice will never be forgotten. As our community of military families reels from this loss, I know we will remain resolute in our noble mission to evacuate Americans, our allies, and innocent Afghans.”
Following the Aug. 26 terrorist attack that was carried out by an Afghan branch of the Islamic State known as ISIS-K, Biden pledged to seek retribution and vowed to make those responsible for the airport bombing “pay.”
News outlets reported last Friday that the U.S. military used a drone to target and fire a retaliatory airstrike against militants in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province, resulting in the death of a “planner” of the attack.
This Sunday afternoon, Sept. 5, a memorial march is being planned in Downtown San Clemente to honor the service members killed in the attack. The march will start at the top of Avenida Del Mar and travel to the Marine Monument at Park Semper Fi.
Shawn Raymundo is the city editor for the San Clemente Times. He graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in Global Studies. Before joining Picket Fence Media, he worked as the government accountability reporter for the Pacific Daily News in the U.S. territory of Guam. Follow him on Twitter @ShawnzyTsunami and follow San Clemente Times @SCTimesNews.