The Washington Post:
23, of Roseville, Calif. — On the evening of Aug. 20, the Department of Defense posted several photos to Twitter of U.S. service members taking care of infants amid the chaotic evacuation from Kabul.
One of the photos featured a young Marine in uniform as she held a baby carefully in her arms. Her long hair was pulled back in a bun and guns sat on either side of her. But her face was gentle as she looked down at the small child. The service member was Sgt. Nicole Gee, who less than one week later would die in the terrorist attack outside the airport. Her death was confirmed Saturday by her father, Richard Herrera, over a brief text exchange with The Post.
Gee’s social media accounts showed a dedicated Marine and a loving friend. In February, she posted a tribute to her partner on his promotion to sergeant, big smiles showing through their masks “before being stuck in pre-deployment quarantine.”
In June came a photo of her riding a camel in Saudi Arabia while in uniform. She smiled ear to ear. Then on Aug. 2, she posted a photo from Kuwait marking her promotion to sergeant. Gee’s last post on Instagram before her death was a photo of her helping evacuees load onto an airplane at Hamid Karzai International Airport. In her second-to-last post, also in uniform, she re-posted the DOD photo from Twitter. The caption: “I love my job.”
News of her death prompted an outpouring of love and grief from friends and family. “My best friend. 23 years old. Gone. I find peace knowing that she left this world doing what she loved. She was a Marine’s Marine. She cared about people. She loved fiercely. She was a light in this dark world,” wrote one friend, Mallory Harrison, in a tribute posted on Facebook on Friday evening.
31, of Utah — Rep. Blake D. Moore (R-Utah) on Twitter identified Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Taylor Hoover as one of the service members killed. Hoover’s family confirmed the news in a brief phone call.
“We’ll be forever grateful for his sacrifice & legacy. He spent his last moments serving our state and nation, and we’ll never forget his unwavering devotion,” Moore tweeted.
The marine graduated high school in 2008, according to his Facebook profile. His family will remember him as a true hero, his father Darin Hoover said.
“He’s a true hero. And did what he loved doing, serving the United States,” he said.
Daegan William-Tyeler Page
23, of Omaha — A “die-hard” Chicago Blackhawks fan and animal lover, Page was looking forward to returning home after his time serving in the Marine Corps, based out of Pendleton, Calif., his family said in a statement.
“To his younger siblings, he was their favorite jungle gym and to his friends, he was a genuinely happy guy that you could always count on,” they said. “After finishing his enlistment, Daegan planned to come home and go to a local trade school, possibly to become a lineman.”
Page was raised in Omaha, where he was a member of the Boy Scouts. He joined the Marine Corps in 2019 after he graduated from Millard South High School, according to the statement.
“Daegan will always be remembered for his tough outer shell and giant heart,” his family said.
Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) said he was “heartbroken” to learn of Page’s death.
“Corporal Page is an American hero who gave the last full measure of devotion,” said Bacon in a statement. “He served his country honorably, and his service will never be in vain.”
23, Knoxville, Tenn. — When Knauss was in second grade, he scribbled in his yearbook, “I want to be a Marine,” and drew himself in uniform one of his former classmates told WBIR.
In high school, Knauss joined a JROTC program. And after graduating in 2016, he enlisted in the army, Knauss’s grandfather, Wayne Knauss, told WATE.
“A motivated young man who loved his country,” Wayne Knauss told the outlet.
Local officials posted tributes to his service. “As heartwrenching as those events were, it is even more difficult when it hits home like this,” Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs wrote on Twitter. “Ryan and his fellow service members represent the best of America — patriots willing to give up their lives in defense of our great nation”
22, of Logansport, Ind. — Before Sanchez joined the Marines, he was known in his hometown for making people laugh.
“He was a light that was on 24/7,” Kennedy Rickerd, who attended school with Sanchez from elementary through high school, told The Washington Post. “Everybody loved him.”
Logansport Mayor Chris Martin said Friday afternoon that he was heartbroken to learn that a native of his city of 18,000 in northern Indiana had died in the attack.
“This young man had not yet even turned 30 and still had his entire life ahead of him,” Martin wrote on Facebook. “Any plans he may have had for his post-military life were given in sacrifice due to the heart he exhibited in putting himself into harm’s way to safeguard the lives of others.”
Rickerd said one memory stands out from more than a decade of attending school with Sanchez. In 5th grade, Sanchez and some of his friends entered a singing competition to perform Beyonce’s “All the Single Ladies,” complete with signature dance moves. They won, and no one else came close, she remembered.
“That’s the kind of person Humberto was, always,” Rickerd said. “He was constantly joking, constantly laughing, constantly trying to make people smile.”
25, of Lawrence, Mass. — Johanny Rosario wasn’t able to attend her high school prom. So years later, her friend and former Marine, Nastassia Hyatt, hosted a surprise dance last year. A video of the event shows Rosario beaming in a dress as she walked down stairs decorated with 2020-shaped balloons.
“This was one of the happiest days of your life and mine,” Hyatt wrote as she paid tribute to her friend. “The smile on your face.”
Hailing from Lawrence, Mass., a city with a large Dominican population, Rosario was proud of her own roots in the Caribbean nation.
“Happy Independence Day to my dear Dominicans,” she posted in Spanish on Facebook in 2019. “Today we drink #ProudToBeDominican.”
On Friday night, Sonia Guzmán, the Dominican Republic’s ambassador to the United States, tweeted in honor of Rosario. “We share in the pain of her family and friends, also the entire Dominican Community of Lawrence,” she captioned a photo of Rosario standing in front of an American flag. “Peace to your soul!”
“We are heartbroken by the death of the service men and women due to the bombing in Kabul this week,” said Lawrence Mayor Kendrys Vasquez in a statement.
Vasquez added he had been in touch with Rosario’s family. Her relatives, the statement said, asked for privacy and requested that “their loved one be recognized as the hero that she was.”