Legion Post No. 88 pays tribute to 13 killed

Hankinson American Legion Eberhard Post No. 88 members saluting during a rendition of ‘Taps.’

The Hankinson American Legion Eberhard Post No. 88 paid tribute to the 13 U.S. service members killed in a suicide bombing attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 26. 

“I would remind you that although we have been at war in Afghanistan for about 20 years, these people were not, strictly speaking, lost on a combat mission. They, like many of us who have served in the past, were in a supporting mission, in a very dangerous world,” said Dick Crooks, Legion Post No. 88 commander. 

The suicide bombing was perpetrated by ISIS-KP members at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul as evacuation efforts in the area were underway.

The memorial service was held at the Hankinson Community in Hankinson Wednesday, Sept. 8. The event service began with a brief speech by Crooks. 

A table sat vacant with 13 empty seats and 13 accompanying red flowers to symbolize the blood shed by the deceased service members. Nearly all of the service members killed in the attack were too young to remember 9/11 or the events leading to the war they served in. 

The oldest killed in the attack was 31 year old Staff Sgt. Taylor Hoover. A full list of those killed in the attack were: 

• Lance Cpl. David Lee Espinoza, 20

• Sgt. Nicole Gee, 23

• Staff Sgt. Taylor Hoover, 31

• Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss, 23

• Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum, 20

• Cpl. Hunter Lopez, 22

• Lance Cpl. Dylan R. Merola, 20.

• Lance Cpl. Kareem Nikoui, 20

• Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo, 25

• Cpl. Humberto Sanchez, 22

• Cpl. Daegan William-Tyeler Page, 23

•Lance Cpl. Jared Schmitz, 20

• Seaman Maxton “Max” Soviak, 22

“These servicemen and women are representative of all the men and women who have served and sacrificed in the defense of people around the world,” Crooks said. “They have paid the supreme sacrifice to ensure our safety and freedom. It is fitting that we pay them this small tribute.”

At least 182 people were killed on the Aug. 26 bombings among them were 169 Afghan civilians trying to escape the country and the 13 service members. 

Crooks’ speech was followed by a rendition of “Taps” where veterans saluted those killed in the attack. A meal was also served after the speech. 

“The single flower in the vases signifies the blood these service personnel shed for our safety, and to a larger extent, the safety and freedom of people everywhere,” Crooks said.

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