- President Biden on Sunday went to Dover to pay tribute to the service members killed in Afghanistan.
- The service members who died were assisting in the evacuation efforts at the Kabul airport.
- In a statement, Biden lauded the “bravery and selflessness” of the fallen in their service.
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President Joe Biden on Sunday met privately with the families of the 13 US service members who were killed in the suicide bombing near the Kabul airport and received the bodies of the fallen officers who died in Afghanistan.
First lady Jill Biden joined the president at Dover Air Base to participate in the “dignified transfer” of remains, a solemn process where the remains of service members killed in foreign combat are transported from an aircraft to an awaiting vehicle.
The fallen officers ranged in age from 20 to 31, and included a Marine from Wyoming who was expecting his first child in just a few weeks and another Marine from California who raved about her job and was photographed holding an Afghan child just a few days ago.
Five of the fallen service members were only 20 years old, having been born shortly before the September 11, 2001 attacks that drove the US to invade Afghanistan to destroy al-Qaeda and bring down the Taliban.
The service members were in the country to aid in the evacuation efforts, as Biden has sought to end a war that has been waged under four US presidents, including himself.
“The 13 service members that we lost were heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice in service of our highest American ideals and while saving the lives of others,” Biden said in a statement released on Saturday. “Their bravery and selflessness has enabled more than 117,000 people at risk to reach safety thus far.”
The fallen service members returning to Dover were:
- 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
Family members of fallen officers often come to Dover to witness the return of their loved ones as they come back to the country they fought so valiantly to protect.
Also at the ceremony were a large group of US officials, including Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, US Marine Corps commandant Gen. David Berger, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.