A number of families are already gathering at the Marine base in Southern California’s Camp Pendleton to remember the heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
One of those heroes was Rylee McCollum, a Wyoming native who was stationed at Camp Pendleton and was expecting to become a father in just three weeks.
“Rylee was a strong, courageous young man,” said Regi Stone, a McCollum family friend whose son Eli enlisted around the same time as McCollum. “I knew the first time I shook his hand, he’s a special kid.”
Other Pendleton losses: 22-year-old Cpl. Hunter Lopez of Coachella Valley, whose parents are both with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, and Kareem Nicoui of nearby Norco, who had always dreamed of becoming a Marine.
A steady stream of people are coming to Camp Pendleton to express their grief with flowers, balloons and notes.
“They are young heroes and that’s kind of what I left on that note,” said John Hlava, a visitor to Camp Pendleton. Thank you for your heroism. And we’re so grateful to them.
Ohio residents are mourning 22-year-old Navy Corpsman Max Soviak of Berlin Heights.
“He was looking out for others and just worried and concerned about others far more than himself,” said Tom Roth, superintendent of Edison Local Schools.
“We are incredibly proud of his service to our country,” Soviak’s family said in a statement. “As we mourn the loss of our son, we also mourn for the loss of the Marines and (soliders) who were killed and pray for the speedy recovery of all of those wounded in Afghanistan. Words cannot express how heartbroken we are with this news and we will miss Max tremendously.”
Missouri, meanwhile, is mourning 20-year-old Wentzville resident Jard Schmitz, whose father told a St. Louis radio station that the Marines sent him to Afghanistan just two weeks ago.
Among other known victims at this time are 20-year-old Marine David Lee Espinoza of Laredo, Texas, and 23-year-old Marine Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss of Knoxville, Tenn.
Said Dave Boyle, a Camp Pendleton visitor: “My prayers and thoughts go to the families. They’ve got to be so heartbroken. And I hope they feel some measure of thankfulness and respect and honor if they drive by and see all of this.”
Full list of fallen servicemen
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.
For the Army, the deceased is:
Army Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Knauss, 23, of Corryton, Tennessee.
Reuters contributed to this report.