One year ago, 13 proud and patriotic American service members, as well as more than 100 innocent Afghan civilians, were killed in a heinous terrorist attack at Abbey Gate outside the Kabul Airport. Many more were injured and will carry the impact of their wounds and experiences for the rest of their lives.
Our nation will forever mourn their sacrifice and honor the memory of those 13 precious souls, stolen from their families, loved ones, brothers- and sisters-in-arms far too soon while performing a noble mission on behalf of our Nation:
Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Darin T. Hoover;
Marine Corps Sgt. Johanny Rosario;
Marine Corps Sgt. Nicole L. Gee;
Marine Corps Cpl. Hunter Lopez;
Marine Corps Cpl. Daegan W. Page;
Marine Corps Cpl. Humberto A. Sanchez;
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. David L. Espinoza;
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jared M. Schmitz;
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Rylee J. McCollum;
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Dylan R. Merola;
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Kareem M. Nikoui;
Navy Petty Officer Third Class Maxton W. Soviak; and
Army Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Knauss.
They were beloved sons and daughters, brothers and sisters. They came from all across our land. Each carried with them the pride of their own unique story and the hopes of the loved ones who nurtured them. But they were united by a common call—to serve something greater than themselves. They were heroes, working to save lives as part of the largest airlift evacuation operation in our history. The example of their bravery and selflessness will live forever as a testament to the very best of our American character.
In the wake of the horrific attack outside Kabul airport, we have redoubled our relentless global campaign against ISIS and other terrorists who threaten Americans. In February, we took out the global head of ISIS in Syria, and last month, in Kabul, we eliminated the leader of al-Qaeda. We now maintain pressure against terrorist threats without keeping thousands of troops in harm’s way on the ground in Afghanistan. And my Administration will continue to hunt down terrorists who seek to harm the United States, wherever they may be.
Today, I am praying for the families of those 13 fallen warriors, who lost a piece of their soul one year ago. Our nation can never repay such incredible sacrifice—but we will never fail to honor our sacred obligation to the families and survivors they left behind. I am also holding in my heart all those who lost their child, partner, parent, sibling, loved one, or battle buddy over our two decades of war in Afghanistan. 2,461 American troops made the ultimate sacrifice. 20,744 were wounded, so many whose lives are forever marked by their injuries. It is a painful reminder that there is nothing low-cost or low-grade about war for those we ask to fight for us.
I am grateful to all the members of our Armed Forces, veterans, and their families, as well as the diplomats, intelligence professionals, counterterrorism experts, and development specialists who served in Afghanistan and who sacrificed so much to make our nation stronger and safer.