On Saturday, August 28, the Defense Department officially confirmed the identities of the 13 fallen U.S. service members killed in the duel bombing outside of Kabul airport on Thursday. Two of them were women who were only in their twenties.
On Thursday, one of the final days of the massive rescue mission in Afghanistan, two bombings, one carried out by a suicide bomber, exploded outside the Hamid Karzai International Airport.
The attacks, attributed to the Islamic State militants, claimed the lives of at least 13 U.S. army and marine personel and more than 200 civilians, including children, and injuring many others.
The official announcement by the Defense Department stated that of those who lost their lives, 11 were Marines, one was an Army soldier, and one was a member of the Navy. Most of them were still in their twenties, including five born when the U.S. first began its involvement in the Afghan war in 2001.
Then there were the two female sergeants assigned the gate duty that was not available for women per protocols before 2001.
Marine Corps Sgt. Nicole L. Gee, 23, of Sacramento, California
Gee was passionate about her service to the country. She was so proud she got her meritoriously Sergeant promotion in Kuwait just three weeks ago on August 3, according to her social media update.
One of the last of her pictures was the moment Gee was in Kabul airport embracing a baby evacuee in her arms among her other peers, which she wrote on her social media account with the words: “I love my job.”
The image was captured and shared by the U.S. Central Command Public Affairs on August 20, not long after heart-breaking footage of desperate Afghan parents passing their offsprings to strangers, praying it was the best hope of their escape from the country.
“She believed in what she was doing, she loved being a Marine,” her brother-in-law, Gabriel Fuoco, said, according to The New York Times. “She wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else.”
According to the news media, Sergeant Gee heard her call to join the Marine Corps when her high school beau Jarod Gee joined the force. They were later married.
Sergeant Gee, a softball player who was remembered as a “vivacious, confident, bright, and strong” by those who knew her, graduated first in her class from corporal school.
“She was a trailblazer in a sense,” Mr. Fuoco said, who shared with the outlet that Gee was thinking of starting a family when she returned home. “When she did something, she did it all the way, and I really think she enjoyed trying to surpass the men.”
“Her last breath was taken doing what she loved—helping people,” said Sgt. Mallory Harrison, Gee’s friend on Facebook.
Marine Corps Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo, 25, of Lawrence, Massachusetts
According to NewsCenter 5, Sergeant Pichardo graduated from Lawrence High School in 2014, where she was a member of the Junior ROTC program. The brave Lawrence immediately registered for the Marine Corps at the age of 18.
Pichardo was assigned to the 5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, Naval Support Activity Bahrain as the outlet reported. In May, she was honored by her unit, the Naval Amphibious Force, Task Force 51/5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade.
Calling Pichardo “a daughter of our city,” Lawrence Mayor Kendrys Vasquez on Saturday had ordered all flags on most areas of the city to be lowered to half-staff in tribute of the 25-year-old Marine.
“In a conversation with her mother (Friday), she spoke of her daughter as a vibrant young person who wanted to give back to the community,” Vasquez said, “and as a result of that, her mother desires that Johanny will be brought back to the city of Lawrence as the hero she is and I encourage all Lawrencians to be a part of this process.”
“The terrorists responsible for this despicable act will be brought to justice,” said U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan of Massachusetts. “My heart breaks for Sergeant Rosario’s family, friends, and the entire Lawrence community. Her sacrifice will never be forgotten.”
According to The New York Times, the Marine Corps has 9% of its force made up of female members.