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2 North Carolina based service members killed in Kabul airport attack

The explosion happened as two suicide bombers and gunmen attacked crowds of Afghans at Kabul’s airport.
Credit: AP / Department of Defense
Sgt. Nicole L. Gee and Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Knauss, both based in North Carolina, were killed in the Kabul airport attack.

KABUL, Afghanistan — Two service members based in North Carolina were killed in the Kabul airport attack.

According to the United States Department of Defense, Marine Sgt. Nicole L. Gee and Army Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Knauss both died during the attack Thursday that also claimed the lives of several other service members.

The explosion happened as two suicide bombers and gunmen attacked crowds of Afghans at Kabul’s airport. Hours earlier, officials warned of a major attack, urging people to leave the airport.

The Department of Defense announced Saturday the deaths of 13 service members who were supporting Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.

Military officials said Army Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Knauss, 23, of Corryton, Tenn., joined the Army in May 2016.

Staff Sgt. Knauss was assigned to 9th PSYOP Battalion, 8th PSYOP Group, Ft. Bragg, according to officials.

Sgt. Nicole L. Gee was assigned to Combat Logistics Battalion 24, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the killings on its Amaq news channel. The IS affiliate in Afghanistan is far more radical than the Taliban, who recently took control of the country in a lightning blitz. The Taliban condemned the blasts.

In an emotional speech from the White House, U.S. President Joe Biden said the attacks would not drive the U.S. out of Afghanistan earlier than scheduled and warned of consequences for those responsible.

“We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay,” Biden said.

The U.S. will officially end its 20-year presence on Aug. 31. The incident is under investigation.

Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Knauss

Following Initial Entry Training and Airborne School at Fort Benning, Georgia, Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Knauss was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, and deployed to Afghanistan in 2017 as an infantryman.

Upon graduating, Knauss was assigned to 9th Battalion, 8th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne).

“We share in the tremendous grief over the loss of Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss, and we stand in support of his wife and entire family during this tragic time,” Col. Jeremy Mushtare, commander, 8th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne) said. “Ryan was the embodiment of an Army Special Operations Forces soldier, a testament to the professionalism of the non-commissioned officer corps, and a steadfast husband and teammate. His loss is devastating to our formation and Army family.”

Staff Sgt. Knauss’s military education includes the Basic Airborne Course, Basic Leader Course, Advanced Leader Course, Psychological Operations Assessment and Selection Course, Psychological Operations Qualification Course, and Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape Course (Level C).

His awards and decorations include the Purple Heart, Bronze Star Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, NATO Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge, Combat Action Badge, and the Army Basic Parachutist Badge.

He is survived by his wife.

Credit: U.S. Department of Defense
Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Knauss died during an attack that also claimed the lives of several other service members.


Sgt. Nicole L. Gee

Sgt. Nicole L. Gee entered active duty in the Marine Corps in 2017.

Gee was a ground electronics transmission systems maintainer assigned to Combat Logistics Battalion 24, a subordinate unit of Combat Logistics Regiment 27, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force. Combat Logistics Battalion 24 is currently deployed with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit as the logistics combat element.

“Our unit mourns the immense loss of Sgt. Gee, our fallen service members, and the Afghan people who lost their lives in this attack,” Brig. Gen. Forrest C. Poole III, commanding general of 2nd Marine Logistics Group said. “I express my deepest heartfelt condolences to Sgt. Gee’s family, friends, and loved ones. We will continue to provide support to all those affected by this incident.”

Her previous assignments include: recruit training at Parris Island, South Carolina; School of Infantry; East in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; Aviation Accession & Primary Military Occupational Specialty School in Pensacola, Florida; and Marine Corps Communications-Electronics School in Twentynine Palms, California.

Sgt. Gee’s military awards include the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal and the National Defense and Global War on Terrorism Service Medals. Her military schools include Recruit Training, Marine Combat Training, Air Traffic Controller Training, Basic Electronics Training, Ground Radio Repair Training, Lance Corporal Leadership Seminar, Corporals’ Course, and Martial Arts Instructor Course.

Credit: AP
This undated photo provided by U.S. Department of Defense twitter page posted Aug. 20, 2021 shows Sgt. Nicole Gee holding a baby at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. Officials said Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021, that Sgt. Nicole Gee of Sacramento, Calif., was killed in Thursday’s bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan. (U.S. Department of Defense via AP)


For the Marine Corps, the deceased are:

Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Darin T. Hoover, 31, of Salt Lake City, Utah.

Marine Corps Sgt. Johanny Rosariopichardo, 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.

For the Navy, the deceased is:

Navy Hospitalman Maxton W. Soviak, 22, of Berlin Heights, Ohio.

Hospitalman Maxton W. Soviak was assigned to 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton, California.

For the Army, the deceased is:

Army Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Knauss, 23, of Corryton, Tennessee.

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