The Defense Department released the names of 13 U.S. service members who were killed by the Islamic State in a suicide bombing outside Kabul’s international airport Thursday.
Among the deceased were 11 Marines, identified as Staff Sgt. Darin Hoover, 31; Sgt. Johanny Rosariopichardo, 25; Sgt. Nicole Gee, 23; Cpl. Hunter Lopez, 22; Cpl. Daegan Page, 23; Cpl. Humberto Sanchez, 22; Lance Cpl. David Espinoza, 20; Lance Cpl. Jared Schmitz, 20; Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum, 20; Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola, 20; and Lance Cpl. Kareem Nikoui, 20. Navy hospitalman Maxton Soviak, 22, was also among those killed, as was 23-year-old Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss, the Defense Department added.
Another 18 U.S. service members were injured in the blast and were extracted from Afghanistan on C-17 aircraft specially equipped with surgical units, a Central Command spokesperson said Thursday. An estimated total of 170 people were killed.
Tributes to the deceased service members were already underway Friday as family members, friends, and government officials praised the sacrifices of the fallen.
Hoover, who hailed from Salt Lake City, was remembered by his father as a “born leader.”
“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.
Lopez, who came from Indio, California, was the son of two Riverside County Sheriff’s Department police officers. He planned to join the department as a deputy at the end of his tour, according to his family.
“He wanted to be a SWAT officer. He was a bada** Marine and a great brother and an awesome son,” the family said .
Gee worked as a maintenance technician with 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, Stars and Stripes reported. Pictures of her holding an Afghan baby surfaced on social media in recent days.
The Department of Defense recently posted images online of Gee and other service members comforting Afghan infants at Hamid Karzai International Airport.
“A few days after this photo was released, she gave the ultimate sacrifice,” Marine Capt. Karen Holliday wrote of Gee, who came from Sacramento, California.
ISIS ‘s affiliate in Afghanistan claimed responsibility for the Thursday attack that took the service members’ lives, publishing an image of a purported suicide bomber online and initially claiming approximately 160 casualties in two blasts. While Pentagon spokesman John Kirby confirmed reports of a second explosion at the Baron Hotel near the airport’s Abbey Gate Thursday, officials then walked back that statement on Friday, saying only one explosion happened at the gate at approximately 5 p.m. local time Thursday.
President Joe Biden and top military officials promised to retaliate for the deaths, and the Pentagon confirmed Saturday that a U.S. airstrike carried out against an ISIS-K target killed two “high-profile” members and wounded another. The U.S. military said an investigation into the attack is underway, as have Taliban officials, who claimed to have captured two ISIS-K suspects.
Military forces remain in Afghanistan as evacuations of U.S. citizens and others continue ahead of the Biden administration’s Tuesday withdrawal deadline. Approximately 6,800 people were evacuated from Kabul between 3 a.m. EDT on Friday and the same time the next day, according to the Pentagon.
As of Saturday, at least 5,400 U.S. citizens have been evacuated from Afghanistan since Aug. 14, while approximately 350 are attempting to leave the country, a State Department spokesperson said.