- Aug. 27, 2021Updated 6:46 p.m. ET
After Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum, 20, landed successful Afghanistan with his Marine unit, his father, Jim, began checking his telephone for a small greenish dot. Mr. McCollum had not been capable to speech with his son, but the greenish dot adjacent to Rylee’s sanction connected a messaging app meant that helium was online. That helium was inactive OK.
When quality came that a termination bomber killed 13 American work members extracurricular the airdrome successful Kabul connected Thursday, Mr. McCollum checked again for the dot. His lad was connected his archetypal overseas deployment, had gotten joined recently, and was astir to go a father. Mr. McCollum messaged his son: “Hey man, you good?”
But the greenish dot was gone.
“In my bosom yesterday afternoon, I knew,” Mr. McCollum said.
On Friday, Lance Corporal McCollum became 1 of the archetypal American victims to beryllium publically identified successful the onslaught that besides killed astatine slightest 170 Afghans. It was the highest U.S. decease toll successful a azygous incidental successful Afghanistan successful 10 years. His decease was confirmed by his begetter and by the politician of Wyoming, Mark Gordon.
While the Department of Defense has not released an authoritative accounting of the victims, their names began to look connected Friday. They appeared successful societal media posts from household and friends and somber announcements from the precocious schools wherever the young men had played shot oregon wrestled conscionable a fewer years earlier.
Some of them, similar Lance Corporal McCollum, who was calved successful February 2001, were inactive babies erstwhile the United States invaded Afghanistan. Others were not yet born. Now, they are among the past casualties of America’s longest war.
Lance Corporal McCollum’s portion had deployed from Jordan to Afghanistan to supply information and assistance with evacuations, his begetter said successful a telephone interrogation connected Friday. He had been guarding a checkpoint erstwhile the detonation tore done the main gross wherever thousands of civilians person been clamoring to flight the country’s caller Taliban rulers.
“He was a beauteous soul,” Mr. McCollum said from his location successful Wyoming.
Mr. McCollum’s fears for his son’s destiny were confirmed erstwhile 2 Marines knocked connected the doorway of the family’s location astatine 3:30 a.m. to present the news. Mr. McCollum said becoming a Marine had been his son’s imagination ever since helium was 3 years old.
That nighttime different families successful communities ample and tiny were getting the aforesaid grim news.
In 1 tiny bluish Ohio assemblage wherever Maxton Soviak grew up playing football, his decease near a “Maxton-sized hole” successful the lives of the radical who loved him, his sister Marilyn wrote successful an Instagram post.
Mr. Soviak served arsenic a Navy medic erstwhile helium was killed, according to a connection from the Edison Local School District announcing his death. Mr. Soviak graduated from Edison High School successful 2017, the territory said.
“Everybody looked to Max successful pugnacious situations,” said Jim Hall, his high-school shot coach, who described Mr. Soviak arsenic a profoundly loyal friend. “He was energetic. He wore his emotions connected his sleeve. He was a passionate kid. He didn’t clasp thing back.”
Mr. Soviak’s social-media illustration showed an exuberant young antheral charging into the satellite — diving disconnected a rocky precipice, rock-climbing, hiking the Grand Canyon. “If the satellite was coming to an end, I don’t wanna adjacent my eyes without feeling similar I lived,” helium wrote successful 1 post.
On Friday, Mr. Hall’s telephone rang with radical calling to mourn and stock memories, and 1 representation of Mr. Soviak kept returning to Mr. Hall’s mind. It was from a snowy determination playoff crippled a fewer years agone successful which Mr. Soviak helped marque a last-second backmost sack to triumph the game.
Mr. Hall remembered watching Mr. Soviak observe connected the field, exultant, snowfall swirling astir him.
At slightest 2 of the slain work members were from California. They were identified by section instrumentality enforcement and a U.S. congressman arsenic Hunter Lopez, 22, a Marine who is the lad of 2 officers of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, and Marine Lance Cpl. Kareem Nikoui, a young martial arts champion from Norco, according to his social media accounts.
On Friday, Kareem Nikoui’s mother, Shana Chappell, posted a photo connected her Instagram relationship of her lad with a wide smile, cradling his firearm amid the crowds of civilians and razor ligament astatine the gross of the airdrome successful Kabul. “This is the past representation my lad sent maine of himself. It was taken connected Sunday. I cognize one americium inactive successful daze close now. I felt my psyche permission my assemblage arsenic one was screaming that it can’t beryllium true! No mother, nary genitor should ever person to perceive that their kid is gone,” she wrote successful the post.
Some of the dormant were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment based astatine Camp Pendleton, Calif. On Thursday evening, arsenic galore families were being notified, the Marine basal held a candlelight vigil.
Understand the Taliban Takeover successful Afghanistan
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Who are the Taliban? The Taliban arose successful 1994 amid the turmoil that came aft the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan successful 1989. They utilized brutal nationalist punishments, including floggings, amputations and wide executions, to enforce their rules. Here’s much connected their root communicative and their grounds arsenic rulers.
Lance Corporal McCollum loved the mountains wherever helium grew up but could not hold to articulation the Marines, his begetter said. Since helium was a boy, helium could not basal injustice and would basal up for bullied classmates. So connected his 18th birthday, helium called his begetter from his schoolhouse successful Jackson Hole to inquire him to travel motion his enlistment papers.
“He wanted to get successful determination arsenic rapidly arsenic helium could,” Mr. McCollum said.
Mr. McCollum said his lad had been profoundly patriotic and had, from a young age, loved going to July 4 and Memorial Day parades and learning astir the ceremonies surrounding the American flag. He was a palmy wrestler who graduated successful 2019, schoolhouse officials said.
“He’s the astir patriotic kid you could find,” Mr. McCollum said. “Loved America, loved the military. Tough arsenic nails with a bosom of gold.”
Regi Stone, a pastor whose son, Eli, was 1 of Lance Corporal McCollum’s champion friends, described him arsenic fiercely devoted. The 2 young men ever had each other’s backs, helium said, whether it was astatine bonfire parties successful the Wyoming woods oregon successful their determination to enlist successful the Marines astatine astir the aforesaid time.
“He wouldn’t backmost down from anything,” Mr. Stone said.
Mr. McCollum said it was wrenching to ticker the chaos unfolding successful Afghanistan aft truthful galore years of American subject concern and truthful galore deaths.
“It kills maine and pains maine that we spent 20 years there, and each the lives that were mislaid there, including my son’s. And we’re backmost to quadrate one,” helium said.
He said helium recovered immoderate comfortableness successful the information that his lad had died helping radical — “doing bully things,” arsenic Lance Corporal McCollum enactment it.
“I couldn’t beryllium much arrogant of him,” his begetter said. “He’s a hero.”
Sheelagh McNeill and Alain Delaquérière contributed research.