|A community member lowers a flag to half-staff for Max Soviak, one of 13 U.S. service members killed in the airport suicide bombing in Kabul, at a home in Berlin Heights, Ohio, estimated population 636. (Photo by Megan Jelinger, Reuters)|
The Pentagon has released the names, ranks, ages and hometowns of the 13 service members killed by the suicide bomber in Afghanistan. The list reflects the disproportionate share of U.S. service members that come from small towns and rural areas, and also the geographic and cultural diversity of our huge country. In the order listed by The Washington Post, which has brief profiles of each one, the heroes are:
- Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum, 20, of Jackson, Wyo., population 11,000, a resort town next to Grand Teton National Park. He was a newlywed expecting a baby next month.
- Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jared Schmitz, 20, of Wentzville, Mo., a St. Louis suburb in St. Charles County.
- Marine Corps Lance Cpl. David Espinoza, 20, of Rio Bravo, Texas, pop. 4,800, on the Rio Grande, which folks on the other side of the river call Rio Bravo del Norte.
- Navy Hospital Corpsman Max Soviak, 22, of Berlin Heights, Ohio, a village near Lake Erie with an estimated population of 636 in 2019.
- Marine Corps Cpl. Hunter Lopez, 22, of Indio, Calif., a date-growing city of 80,000 in the Sonoran Desert and home of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.
- Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Kareem Nikoui, 20, of Norco, Calif., in Riverside County. The town of 27,000 requires buildings to "reflect a desired Western theme," including qualities "described as rural, informal, traditional, rustic, low-profile and equestrian oriented."
- Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Darin Taylor Hoover, 31, of Utah. The Pentagon listed no town, but his Facebook page says he attended high school in Midvale, a near suburb of Salt Lake City.
- Marine Corps Cpl. Daegan William-Tyeler Page, 23, of Omaha, at 475,000 by far the largest hometown on the list.
- Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss, 23, of Corryton, Tenn., a Knoxville suburb, also the hometown of several country musicians, including Kenny Chesney. In second grade, he wrote in his yearbook, “I want to be a Marine,” the Post reports.
- Marine Corps Sgt. Johanny Rosario, 25, of Lawrence, Mass., a Boston suburb of 80,000 that was one of America's first manufacturing centers. She was of Dominican heritage.
- Marine Corps Cpl. Humberto Sanchez, 22, of Logansport, Ind., a town of 18,000 in the north-central part of the state that is a suburb of Kokomo, pop. 58,000.
- Marine Corps Sgt. Nicole Gee, 23, of Roseville, Calif., pop. 141,000 and the largest town in Placer County, which extends across the Sierra Nevada to the state line.
- Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Dylan R. Merola, 20, of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., pop. 180,000. The second word of its name is a Native American term meaning "sandy place." Many young Americans have died in sandy places in the last 20 years.