Oakley’s Afghan Heroes 


On August 26, at around 1730, Ghost Company 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, out of Camp Pendleton, alongside service personnel from the U.S. Army and British Paratroopers, were at the Abbey Gate entry to the Kabul Airport in Afghanistan scrambling to evacuate citizens and Afghans from the country. They had extended their work by over an hour, working to save as many people as possible, when a suicide bomber detonated explosives.

The attack involved one suicide bomb near the Abbey gate of the airport. The Pentagon confirmed that 13 U.S. service members had been killed and 18 wounded after a suicide bomber detonated an explosive near Hamid Karzai International Airport in Afghanistan. The dead include 11 Marines, one soldier and one sailor, with many in their early 20s. At least 169 Afghans were killed and scores more wounded, Afghan officials said, according to the Associated Press.

From Geoff Ball, Ghost Company, Company Commander in an email sent to family:

…we had a third of our entire force to care for in a split second. But in less than 20 minutes after the bomb detonated, we had our first wounded at the airport hospital and this included a ten minute drive time. Senior leaders at the operations center remarked they had never seen a MASSCAS response move so quickly. The entire V21 team worked incredibly smoothly and efficiently during this moment and we lived up to our name, The Professionals. We held security, we moved our wounded, and due to our training, likely saved more than we should have.

… In less than 24 hours after we returned to our billeting area after the attack, the company was back on the line and watching over evacuees.

Among the survivors of the attack were Lance Corporal Dylan Rothwell and Corporal Osvaldo Ochoa-Gonzalez both from Oakley. They will be coming home in mid-December. To support and assist their sons with the grieving process the families created a Go Fund Me account to honor their fallen brothers and sisters. The account was used to purchase memorial bricks that will be placed at the Oakley Veterans Memorial to honor the Fallen 13. Thanks to all that supported that effort.

Fallen 13

Marine Corps Lance Cpl. David L. Espinoza, 20, of Rio Bravo, Texas

Marine Corps Sgt. Nicole L. Gee, 23, of Sacramento, Calif.

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

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

Marine Corps Cpl. Hunter Lopez, 22, of Indio, Calif.

Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Rylee J. McCollum, 20, of Jackson, Wyo.

Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Dylan R. Merola, 20, of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Kareem M. Nikoui, 20, of Norco, Calif.

Marine Corps Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo, 25, of Lawrence, Mass.

Marine Corps Cpl. Humberto A. Sanchez, 22, of Logansport, Ind.

Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jared M. Schmitz, 20, of St. Charles, Mo.

Navy Hospital Corpsman Maxton W. Soviak, 22, of Berlin Heights, Ohio

Marine Corps Cpl. Daegan W. Page, 23, of Omaha, Neb.

Our local heroes would love to hear from you.

About Kevin

Manager of Mainframe Operations and Optimization – USS-UPI, Co-Founder and Board Member - Friends of Oakley A Community Foundation, Trustee RD 2137, Advisory Board – Opportunity Junction
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