Marine killed in Kabul suicide bomb was about to become a father in just three weeks

The Navy corpsman who was among 13 US troops killed in a suicide blast in Afghanistan made a haunting final post on Instagram before his death.

Maxton William Soviak, a medic in his early 20s from Ohio, made the tragic post on June 10, sharing a photo posing with other service members in what is believed to be Afghanistan.

‘It’s kill or be killed, definitely trynna be on the kill side,’ he wrote in a comment on the post.

Navy corpsmen often work alongside Marines, who do not have their own medics. Eleven Marines were also killed in Thursday’s attack at the Kabul airport, as well as an Army soldier, and at least 18 US service members were wounded.

Maxton William Soviak (center), a medic in his early 20s, made this tragic post on June 10, writing 'It's kill or be killed, definitely trynna be on the kill side'

Maxton William Soviak (center), a medic in his early 20s, made this tragic post on June 10, writing ‘It’s kill or be killed, definitely trynna be on the kill side’

Soviak, an Ohio native, joined the Navy after high school and became a hospital corpsman

Soviak, an Ohio native, joined the Navy after high school and became a hospital corpsman

Soviak's sister Marilyn said an Instagram post that her brother was there to 'help people'

Soviak’s sister Marilyn said an Instagram post that her brother was there to ‘help people’

Soviak’s sister Marilyn said in her own Instagram post that her brother was there to ‘help people’.

‘My beautiful, intelligent, beat-to-the-sound of his own drum, annoying, charming baby brother was killed yesterday helping to save lives. He was a f***ing medic. There to help people and now he is gone and my family will never be the same,’ she wrote.

‘He was just a kid. We are sending kids over there to die. Kids with families that now have holes just like ours,’ she added. ‘I’m not one for praying but d**n could those kids over there use some right now. My heart is in pieces and I don’t think they’ll ever fit back right again.’

Soviak was named as a casualty of the attack by his high school in Milan, Ohio, where he graduated in 2017. His death was not immediately confirmed by the US Navy.

‘It is with deepest sorrow that I am sharing this news,’ Edison Local School District Superintendent Thomas Roth said in a statement.

‘Max was a good student who was active in sports and other activities throughout his school career. He was well respected and liked by everyone who knew him. Max was full of life in everything he did.’

Soviak took pride in his Navy service and worked alongside Marines in Afghanistan

Soviak took pride in his Navy service and worked alongside Marines in Afghanistan

Soviak was named as a casualty of the attack by his high school in Milan, Ohio

In high school, Soviak was on the honor roll and played football

In high school, Soviak was on the honor roll and played football. He was named as a casualty of the attack by his high school in Milan, Ohio

Soviak’s family confirmed his death to local media and have asked for privacy.

In high school, Soviak was on the honor roll and played football, according to the Sandusky Register.

Soviak was among the nearly 6,000 US troops now working frantically to evacuate Americans and Afghan refugees from Kabul, with just days remaining before President Joe Biden’s August 31 deadline to withdraw.

Four of the Marines killed in the attack have been named as Rylee McCollum, David Lee Espinoza, Kareem Nikoui and Jared Schmitz.

David Lee Espinoza, 20

David Lee Espinoza, 20, was one of the Marines killed in Thursday's attack

David Lee Espinoza, 20, was one of the Marines killed in Thursday’s attack

David Lee Espinoza, was a 20-year-old U.S. Marine from Rio Grande, Texas.

His mother, Elizabeth Holguin, said: ‘He was a very good person. He served his country. He helped in any way he could. He was there (in Afghanistan), helping innocent people.’

This was his second deployment; he first made a trip to the Middle East and arrived in Afghanistan for about a week.

Holguin said she was uneasy about him being deployed there.

‘I prayed every day,’ she said.

He is one of four children; he is not married and has no children.

The mom last spoke with him Tuesday.

‘I just told him to be careful, that I was worried about him and I couldn’t wait for him to come back,’ Holguin said. ‘He told me he was fine and not to worry…. He was brave. If he was scared, he didn’t show it.’

She said she holds no animosity toward the president, saying her son ‘wanted to be there.’

Holguin learned her son was dead when she received a phone call Friday at 2.30am.

Rylee McCollum

Rylee McCollum was named by his high school in Wyoming as a casualty in the attack

Rylee McCollum was named by his high school in Wyoming as a casualty in the attack

McCollum was named by his high school in Wyoming as a casualty in the attack.

He was expecting to become a father and was pictured with his pregnant wife shortly before deploying to Afghanistan in April.

Cheyenne McCollum, Rylee’s sister, told DailyMail.com her brother had wanted to be a Marine since he was a toddler – and that his own baby is due in just three weeks.

‘Rylee was an amazing, man with a passion for the Marines. He was a son, a brother, a husband and a father with a baby due in just 3 weeks,’ she said.

‘He wanted to be a marine his whole life and carried around his rifle in his diapers and cowboy boots.

‘He was determined to be in infantry and this was his first deployment. Rylee was sent to Afghanistan when the evac began. Rylee was manning the check point when he suicide bomb went off.

‘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.

‘To his friends and teammates and coaches, he was family. Rylee will always be a hero not just for the ultimate sacrifice he made for our country but for the way he impacted every life around him for the better. Making us stronger, kinder, teaching us to love deeper. We love you Rylee.’

Rylee McCollum was due to become a father. He is pictured with his pregnant wife, right, shortly before deploying to Afghanistan in April

Rylee McCollum was due to become a father. He is pictured with his pregnant wife, right, shortly before deploying to Afghanistan in April

Rylee McCollum was due to become a father. He is pictured with his pregnant wife, right, shortly before deploying to Afghanistan in April

Another sister told the Casper Star-Tribune that it was his first deployment, and that he was manning a checkpoint at the airport when the bomb went off.

‘He wanted to be a Marine his whole life and carried around his rifle in his diapers and cowboy boots,’ sister Roice McCollum’s said.

‘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 will always be a hero not just for the ultimate sacrifice he made for our country, but for the way he impacted every life around him for the better. Making us stronger, kinder, teaching us to love deeper,’ Roice McCollum said.

McCollum graduated from Summit Innovations School in Jackson in 2019.

Wyoming Schools Superintendent Jillian Balow said in a statement: ‘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.’

‘My heart and prayers are with Rylee’s family, friends, and the entire Jackson community,’ she added.

The Wyoming-born Marine’s wrestling coach and close family friend, Benjamin Arlotta said ‘heads should roll’ over the disastrous US exit and that the young soldier’s family is ‘absolutely broken’.

Arlotta told DailyMail.com that even in diapers McCollum would stand watch on his porch with a toy rifle, first said he wanted to be a Marine aged eight, and signed up on his 18th birthday.

In a glowing eulogy to the young expectant father, whose new baby is due in three weeks, Arlotta described McCollum as a ‘personal hero’ and a ‘fantastic brother, fantastic uncle, and a wonderful friend’.

‘I was his wrestling coach since he was six. He was one of the best. A great kid, a great young man and an American patriot. He loved being a Marine,’ Arlotta said.

‘He was just a good man all around. We’re all hurting pretty bad.

‘It’s impossible. I’m sitting here with the family right now – with his dad and two sisters, his brother-in-law and niece. They’re shattered, they’re absolutely broken. The entire community is.’

Pictued, Rylee McCollum and his pregnant wife, Jiennah Crayton

Pictued, Rylee McCollum and his pregnant wife, Jiennah Crayton

McCollum was due

McCollum and Crayton’s baby is due to be born in just three weeks

Benjamin Arlotta, and his wife, Talia, are long-time family friends of the McCollums. Benjamin said he is angry and devastated

Benjamin Arlotta, and his wife, Talia, are long-time family friends of the McCollums. Benjamin said he is angry and devastated

Arlotta, 37, said he is furious at the Biden administration and blames the White House for putting soldiers in an unnecessarily dangerous position.

‘It’s a junk show, an absolute junk show. Not just for Rylee but for every serviceman and woman over there. They were put in a very terrible spot. In my opinion this entire circumstance has been mismanaged from every level,’ he told DailyMail.com.

‘The only thing I can hope for is that accountability isn’t forgotten. Because for the 13 men who were killed yesterday, heads need to roll for the way things have gone.

‘We’re just seeing the beginning of it. It’s not over, it’s only going to get worse. Everybody in the country needs to be praying for our servicemen and women right now. They have a scrap out in front of them.

‘Sadly those 13 Marines aren’t going to be the last ones to perish because of these terrible decisions that were made.’

Recalling fond memories of the young Jackson Hole native, the wrestling coach told a heartwarming story of McCollum’s determination.

‘When he was 13 he came into the competition season 32lbs heavier than where he wanted to be,’ Arlotta said.

‘He told me he would lose it. We made a bet. I was going to quit chewing tobacco if he could get down there. That was September, by the time the state championship rolled around in January he had made weight.

‘He entered the wrestling tournament at that weight and I quit chewing that day.

‘He was first and foremost a man of his word. If he said he would do something, by goodness gracious he stood right in front of you until he did it.’

McCollum moved to California for training. His pregnant wife Jiennah ‘Gigi’ Crayton lives in the San Diego area.

The 20-year-old lance corporal wanted to be a soldier since childhood, first telling his parents he would join the Marines age eight.

‘We were driving back from his first state wrestling tournament, I was riding with his family,’ said Arlotta. ‘We asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up, he said he wanted to be in the Marines.

‘He enlisted on his 18th birthday,’ the coach added. ‘When he actually enlisted his recruiter told him he could be anything, he could do any job. He swore up and down he wanted to be an infantryman.

‘If you know Rylee, you know you can’t talk him out of a damn thing, so that’s what he did.’

U.S. Congresswoman Liz Cheney, a fellow Wyoming resident, issued a statement when she learned of Rylee’s passing.

‘I want to offer my deepest condolences to Rylee McCollum’s family and loved ones. His bravery and patriotism will never be forgotten. His willingness to put himself in harm’s way to keep our country safe and defend our freedom represents a level of selflessness and heroism that embodies the best of America.

‘We know that the McCollum family is grieving this tragic loss. I ask that people in Wyoming and across the country please keep those close to Rylee in their prayers, and remember that we are only free because of the courage and valor of service members like him.’

Jared Schmitz, 20

Jared Schmitz was killed in the attack

Jared Schmitz was killed in the attack

Lance Corporal Jared Schmitz was a 20-year-old from Wentzville, Missouri.

His father Mark Schmitz told KMOX the Marines notified his family about 2.40am on Friday about his son’s death.

‘This was something he always wanted to do and I never seen a young man train as hard as he did to be the best soldier he could be,’ Mark Schmitz said.

The grieving father grew emotional as he spoke about his son, welling up with tears.

‘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.’

Mark Schmitz slammed Biden and blamed him for his son’s death.

‘Be afraid of our leadership or lack thereof. Pray every day for the soldiers that are putting their lives at risk, doing what they love which is protecting all of us,’ Schmitz’s father said.

He added that he was relieved when his son signed up as a Marine when Trump was in office because he ‘really believed this guy didn’t want to send people into harm’s way.’

Kareem Nikoui, 20

Marine Kareem Nikoui was a native of Norco, California.

Nikoui’s father Steve, a carpenter, vented his frustrations at Biden in an interview with the Daily Beast.

 ‘They sent my son over there as a paper pusher and then had the Taliban outside providing security. I blame my own military leaders… Biden turned his back on him. That’s it,’ he said

Steve Nikoui said he knew his son was dead when he saw two Marines approaching his home on Thursday at 7.15pm PST.

He said he sat with the two emotional Marines, who cried more than he cried, and then had them leave.

Marine Kareem Nikoui, pictured with his mother, was killed on Thursday. His father said he blames Biden for abandoning them in Kabul

Marine Kareem Nikoui, pictured with his mother, was killed on Thursday. His father said he blames Biden for abandoning them in Kabul

An American flag flew half-mast outside Norco Intermediate School in honor of Nikoui

An American flag flew half-mast outside Norco Intermediate School in honor of Nikoui

‘I was actually trying to console them. But at the same time, I just wanted them to get out as soon as possible so that no one from my family came back and saw them.

‘I thought it appropriate that I be able to tell them,’ he said.

He added that his son, who was based at Camp Pendleton in California, would often bring other Marines home on the holidays if they couldn’t get back to their own families.

‘My wife and I felt very honored that [since] these other boys weren’t around their homes, that we were able to provide some sort of family life for them.

‘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,’ he said.

Speaking outside Kareem’s home on Friday, a relative told DailyMail.com that Kareem’s family were inside signing the documents required to repatriate him.

He added: ‘They’re totally devastated and they need some time. All the family are here and we’re supporting them.’

A steady stream of people have been seen coming and going from the home all day, among them some of Kareem’s colleagues from the Camp Pendleton Marine base in San Diego.

Earlier today, Kareem’s mother Shana Chappell posted angrily on social media, blaming Vice-President Kamala Harris for the loss of her son.

At the social media message of condolence from the Vice-President, she wrote: ‘This c u next Tuesday is a joke! They are the reason my son is dead.’

Kareem’s death is also being mourned by his home city of Norco – a small community of 26,000 people nicknamed ‘Horsetown’ that sits 50 miles east of Los Angeles.

Confirming his death, the city released a message of condolence that read: ‘The City of Norco mourns the loss of Norco resident U.S. Marine Corps Lance Corporal Kareem Mae’Lee Grant Nikoui who was killed in action while stationed at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan on Thursday, August 26, 2021.

‘The U.S. Marine, who graduated from Norco High School in 2019 and served in JROTC, was committed to serving his country and is survived by his mother, father and siblings.’

The city of Norco plans to honor Nikoui by placing his name on the ‘Lest We Forget Wall’ at the George A. Ingalls Veterans Memorial Plaza.

Hunter Lopez

Marine Hunter Lopez, a native of California’s Coachella Valley and the son of two police officers, was also killed, Sheriff Chad Bianco confirmed.

‘I am unbelievably saddened and heartbroken for the Lopez family as they grieve over the loss of their American Hero,’ Bianco wrote.

‘Hunter Lopez, son of our own Captain Herman Lopez and Deputy Alicia Lopez, tragically lost his life while serving our country in the United States Marine Corp. He was killed in Kabul, Afghanistan on Thursday, August 26th,’ the sheriff added.

‘Before joining the Marine Corp, Hunter proudly served in our Sheriff’s Explorer Program. Our entire department is mourning this tragic loss. The Lopez family exemplifies the meaning of Service Above Self.’

Marine Hunter Lopez, a native of California's Coachella Valley and the son of two police officers, was also killed, Sheriff Chad Bianco confirmed

Marine Hunter Lopez, a native of California’s Coachella Valley and the son of two police officers, was also killed, Sheriff Chad Bianco confirmed

'The Lopez family exemplifies the meaning of Service Above Self,' said the local sheriff

‘The Lopez family exemplifies the meaning of Service Above Self,’ said the local sheriff

'I am unbelievably saddened and heartbroken for the Lopez family as they grieve over the loss of their American Hero,' Bianco wrote of Hunter Lopez (above)

‘I am unbelievably saddened and heartbroken for the Lopez family as they grieve over the loss of their American Hero,’ Bianco wrote of Hunter Lopez (above)

City of La Quinta issued a statement: ‘Our La Quinta Family is in mourning today with the tragic loss of Hunter Lopez, one of the fallen United States Service Members in the attack in Afghanistan,’

‘Hunter is the son of Captain Herman and Alicia Lopez, both members of the Riverside Sheriff’s Department. Captain Herman Lopez is our Police Chief and Captain over at the Thermal Station,’ the statement added.

‘We are all so humbled by the service and ultimate sacrifice that Hunter gave to protect our country. He was a brave and selfless soldier who answered the call to be a United States Marine. Like his parents, Hunter wanted to help serve others and protect his community.’  

Taylor Hoover

Staff Sgt. Taylor Hoover, of Utah, was another of the service members killed outside the Kabul airport, his family told KSL-TV.

Friends and family mourned his loss, including fellow students who graduated in the Class of 2008 at Hillcrest High School with him in Midvale.

‘Soooooo glad I got to see him before he left. I love you son!!! You’re my hero!! Please check in on us once in a while. I’ll try to make you proud!!’ Hoover’s father, Darin Hoover, wrote on Facebook.

Marine Staff Sgt. Taylor Hoover, pictured holding a young family member, died in Kabul

Marine Staff Sgt. Taylor Hoover, pictured holding a young family member, died in Kabul

Taylor Hoover with his mom Kelly Barnett

Taylor Hoover with his girlfriend, Nicole Weiss

Taylor Hoover, a Utah native, was mourned by his mother Kelly Barnett, left, and girlfriend, Nicole Weiss, right, following news of his death

Hoover, center, was among the Marine troops in Afghanistan to helping with the evacuation

Hoover, center, was among the Marine troops in Afghanistan to helping with the evacuation

‘My handsome nephew, Staff Sergeant Taylor Hoover. Taylor spent his entire adult life as a Marine, serving. Doing the hard things that most of us can’t do. He is a hero,’ Jeremy Soto, an uncle, wrote.

‘We are wounded. We are bruised. We are angry. We are crushed… but we remain faithful. Thank you for your courage nephew. We love you always.’

‘Always a smile. Always respectful. A joy to be around. He is adored beyond measure. The world has lost a true light. Our hearts are broken. Shock, disbelief, horror, sadness, sorrow, anger and grief,’ Brittany Jones Barnett, an aunt, added.

Hoover's  uncle, Jeremy Soto, posted a tribute to the fallen Marine

Hoover’s  uncle, Jeremy Soto, posted a tribute to the fallen Marine

Hoover in his formal uniform

Hoover in his active duty uniform

Hoover pictured in his uniforms, ‘died a hero doing what he always wanted to do and was proud to do, ‘ a family member said

‘Thank you sweet boy for the ultimate sacrifice. For giving your life for us all. Fighting for freedom and giving absolutely everything you had. You will never ever be forgotten. We love you so much,’ she added.

U.S. Representative Blake Moore, who represents Utah’s 1st Congressional District, also mourned the loss of Hoover.

‘We’ll be forever grateful for his sacrifice & legacy. He spent his last moments serving our state & nation, and we’ll never forget his unwavering devotion,’ he wrote in a statement.

Utah Senator Mike Lee wrote in a statement, ‘Burying a child is a grief no parent should bear. Sharon and I mourn with the Hoover family and with all who loved [Hoover]… who gave the last full measure of devotion in Afghanistan.

‘He died completing a mission to save his countrymen and civilians from evil and oppression. He lived the Marine Corps motto by living and dying always faithful.’

Utah residents tied fellow ribbons to flags in front of Hoover's family home

Utah residents tied fellow ribbons to flags in front of Hoover’s family home

Neighbor Lena McIllece helped arranged the flags to honor Hoover and the other fallen troops

Neighbor Lena McIllece helped arranged the flags to honor Hoover and the other fallen troops

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox ordered that flags be flown at half-staff at all state facilities and public grounds effective immediately until sunset on August. 30 to honor Hoover and all those who died in the recent attack.

‘We are devastated to hear of the passing of Staff Sgt. Taylor Hoover. Staff Sgt. Hoover served valiantly as a Marine and died serving his fellow countrymen as well as America’s allies in Afghanistan. We honor his tremendous bravery and commitment to his country, even as we condemn the senseless violence that resulted in his death. Abby and I pray for Staff Sgt. Hoover, his family and loved ones during this most difficult time,’ Cox said in a statement.

A family member told ABC 4 that Hoover, ‘died a hero doing what he always wanted to do and was proud to do, serve his country.

Ryan Knauss, 23 

Marine Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss, 23, was a native of Knoxville, Tennessee. He was identified as one of the victims by his grandfather, Wayne Knauss.

‘He grew up in a Christian home, attended Berean Christian school through 8th grade and spent, four years at Gibbs High [School],’ said Wayne about his grandson. ‘A motivated young man who loved his country. He was a believer so we will see him again in Gods heaven.’

Wayne told ABC 6 that Ryan had served right out of high school for five years with special training in Psychology Operations.

Ryan Knauss, a Knoxville native, served as a Marine Staff Sergeant

Ryan Knauss, a Knoxville native, served as a Marine Staff Sergeant

Knauss, 23, right, said he wanted to move to Washington D.C. when he returned

Knauss, 23, right, said he wanted to move to Washington D.C. when he returned

Members of the Knauss family mourned Ryan's death on social media

Members of the Knauss family mourned Ryan’s death on social media

Ryan’s stepmother, Lianne Knauss, added that Ryan told them he was looking forward to returning to the U.S. and moving to Washington D.C.

‘He was a super-smart hilarious young man,’ she said.

U.S. Representative Tim Burchett, a fellow Knoxville resident, also tweeted a tribute to the fallen marine.

‘Ryan gave his life outside that airport helping people he didn’t know get to safety. This is what true heroism looks like and Ryan’s sacrifice will never be forgotten. The Knauss family is my prayers.’ Burchett wrote

Diane Trulson Amundson Knauss also urged people to support Wayne and the troops in Afghanistan.

‘Please pray for our military in Afghanistan and all over the world,’ she wrote. ‘Our hearts ache for Wayne and Neena… and all families.’

Daegan Page, 23 

Corp. Daegan William-Tyeler Page, 23, was a native of Omaha, Nebraska.

In a statement, Page’s family confirmed that he was one of the slain service members at Kabul airport.

‘Our hearts are broken, but we are thankful for the friends and family who are surrounding us during this time,’ the family said.

Corp. Daegan William-Tyeler Page died in the Kabul airport bombing attack

Corp. Daegan William-Tyeler Page died in the Kabul airport bombing attack

Page, left, was a Marine and member of the 2nd Battalion Marine Regiment

Page, left, was a Marine and member of the 2nd Battalion Marine Regiment

The Omaha, Nebraska, native was looking forward to returning home, his family said

The Omaha, Nebraska, native was looking forward to returning home, his family said

‘Daegan’s girlfriend Jessica, his mom, dad, step-mom, step-dad, 4 siblings, and grandparents are all mourning the loss of a great son, grandson, and brother.’

Page grew up in Omaha and Red Oak, Iowa. He enjoyed playing hockey for Omaha Westside in the local hockey club and was a diehard Chicago Blackhawks fan.

He also oved hunting and spending time outside with his father.

His family said he was a longtime Boy Scout who was eager to join the U.S. Marine Corps.

‘Daegan joined the U.S. Marine Corps after graduating from Millard South High School. He loved the brotherhood of the Marines and was proud to serve as a member of the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California.’

Page, center, hoped to reunite with friends back home and go to trade school

Page, center, hoped to reunite with friends back home and go to trade school

One of Page's friends voiced her frustration over his death on social media

One of Page’s friends voiced her frustration over his death on social media

Page, third from the left, rear, was drawn to the sense of brotherhood within the Marine Corps

Page, third from the left, rear, was drawn to the sense of brotherhood within the Marine Corps

They added that Page was looking forward to coming home to see his family and friends. He also had plans to go to trade school, contemplating a career as a lineman.

‘Daegan will always be remembered for his tough outer shell and giant heart. Our thoughts and prayers are also with the other Marine and Navy families whose loved ones died alongside Daegan,’ the family said.

Shana Nicole, a friend of Page, added that ‘the world lost an amazing hero.

‘My heart hurts for everyone who knew Daegan. He was so so kind always,’ she wrote on Facebook.

U.S. Congressman Jeff Fortenberry, who represents Page’s home district, also issued a statement mourning the loss of the young marine.

‘I was just notified about the death of Marine Corporal Page. My heart was already broken over our country’s loss of 13 service members in Afghanistan. Now the loss is even harder,’ Fortenberry said.

‘God bless Corporal Page. He saved lives and served his country honorably. His life was cut short but had ultimate meaning. By his bravery and will, many others will have a chance. I send my heartfelt condolences to his family.’

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