The identities of the 13 US service members who were killed by an ISIS-K suicide bomber outside the Kabul airport while helping to oversee the evacuation of thousands of Americans and Afghan allies have begun to emerge.
The names of one Navy corpsman and five Marines killed in Thursday’s blast have been released, while the identities of an additional five Marines and two Army soldiers have yet to be disclosed while the military works to inform their families.
“We continue to mourn the loss of these Marines and pray for their families. Our focus now is taking care of the families of those who were killed and caring for our injured,” Maj. Jim Stenger, a Marine Corps spokesperson, told The Post in an email.
Here’s what we know about the US service members who were killed.
Maxton Soviak, 22, Navy
Soviak, a Navy hospital corpsman, hailed from Berlin Heights, Ohio, and graduated from Edison High School in Milan in 2017,
A woman who identified herself as Soviak’s older sister, and who goes by Marilyn Soviak on Instagram, penned a heartbreaking post Friday that confirmed her brother’s death.
Maxton Soviak also worked as a lifeguard and a maintenance technician before he died.US Navy
“he was a f–king medic. there to help people. and now he is gone and my family will never be the same. there is a large Maxton sized hole that will never be filled,” she wrote alongside a slideshow of images showing the two as children.null
“he was just a kid. we are sending kids over there to die. kids with families that now have holes just like ours.”
His family later released a statement that said he was a “wonderful son who loved his family, his community, and was proud to serve in the US Navy.”
“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.”
Kareem Nikoui, 20, Marines
Kareem Nikoui was from Norco, California. His father didn’t realize his son had been killed until a clutch of Marines showed up at his door.I haven’t gone to bed all night,” the heartbroken dad told the outlet.
He said his son “loved what he was doing” and “always wanted to be a Marine.”
“He really loved that [Marine Corps] family. He was devoted — he was going to make a career out of this, and he wanted to go. No hesitation for him to be called to duty,” the dad said.
David Lee Espinoza, 20, Marines
David Lee Espinoza came from Texas before joining the military.Handout
Espinoza was from Laredo, Texas, according to the Laredo Police Department.
“Our thoughts and prayers will remain with the family of United States Fallen Marine, David L. Espinoza, as well as to his friends and fellow Marines,” the agency wrote in a Facebook post alongside a photo of Espinoza.
“Mr. Espinoza, a Laredo Marine killed in Afghanistan, embodied the values of America: grit, dedication, service, and valor. When he joined the military after high school, he did so with the intention of protecting our nation and demonstrating his selfless acts of service,”
Rylee McCollum, 20, Marines
Rylee McCollum, one of the 13 soldiers who died, graduated high school two years ago.Facebook
McCollum, from Bondurant, Wyoming, was on his first deployment, had just gotten married, and was three weeks away from being a dad when he was killed in Thursday’s blast, according to the Casper Star Tribune.
“He wanted to be a Marine his whole life and carried around his rifle in his diapers and cowboy boots,” McCollum’s sister Roice McCollum told the outlet.
“He was determined to be in infantry … Rylee wanted to be a history teacher and a wrestling coach when he finished serving his country. He’s a tough, kind, loving kid who made an impact on everyone he met. His joke and wit brought so much joy.”
Rylee McCollum had just graduated from high school in 2019 and was manning an airport checkpoint when the bomb exploded, the outlet said.
“Saying that I am grateful for Rylee’s service to our country does not begin to encapsulate the grief and sadness I feel today as a mother and as an American,” Wyoming Schools Superintendent Jillian Balow told the outlet.
“My heart and prayers are with Rylee’s family, friends, and the entire Jackson community.”
Jared Schmitz, 20, Marines
Jared Schmitz’s dad said his son always dreamed of being a soldier. Facebook
Schmitz was a lance corporal from St. Charles County, Missouri, according to KMOX.
“His life meant so much more. I’m so incredibly devastated that I won’t be able to see the man that he was very quickly growing into becoming,” Schmitz’s father, Mark Schmitz, told the outlet.
The heartbroken dad said his son, who always dreamed of being a soldier, was on his first deployment and was sent to Afghanistan from Jordan. He was notified of his son’s death at about 2:40 a.m.
Hunter Lopez, 22, Marine
Hunter Lopez was one of the Marines killed in the Kabul blast.Facebook
The Riverside Sheriff’s Association released a statement on behalf of Lopez’s parents, Riverside Deputy Sheriff Alicia Lopez and Riverside Sheriff’s Captain Herman Lopez, the outlet reported.
The father criticized President Biden’s sloppy withdrawal from Afghanistan and said he didn’t expect his son to be in this situation.
“They sent my son over there as a paper pusher and then had the Taliban outside providing security,” Steve Nikoui said.
“I blame my own military leaders … Biden turned his back on him. That’s it.”
The day before Kareem Nikoui was killed, he sent a video to his dad that showed him talking with Afghan children and giving them candy at the Kabul airport.
“He was born the same year it started, and ended his life with the end of this war,” the dad said, referring to the war that started in 2001.
“I’m really disappointed in the way that the president has handled this, even more so the way the military has handled it. The commanders on the ground should have recognized this threat and addressed it.”