CULPEPER STAR-EXPONENT, CLINT SCHEMMER
The U.S. House of Representatives voted unanimously Monday night to pass legislation Rep. Abigail Spanberger cosponsored to recognize the 13 U.S. service members killed during an August terrorist attack at the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan.
If passed by the Senate and signed by the president, the legislation would posthumously award the Congressional Gold Medal to Staff Sgt. Darin Taylor Hoover, Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo, Sgt. Nicole Gee, Cpl. Hunter Lopez, Cpl. Daegan Page, Cpl. Humberto Sanchez, Cpl. David Lee Espinoza, Lance Cpl. Jared Schmitz, Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum, Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola, Lance Cpl. Kareem Nikoui, Hospitalman Maxton Soviak and Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss.
“Those who paid the ultimate sacrifice during the final days of the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan were heroes,” Spanberger said in a statement Tuesday. “They risked everything to help American citizens and our Afghan allies evacuate the country — and they deserve nothing less than the strong recognition they are owed for their valor. … This Congressional Gold Medal would mean so much to their loved ones, their brothers and sisters in the military, and the American communities they volunteered to protect and serve.”
The Virginia lawmaker, a Democrat, expressed happiness at seeing her colleagues demonstrate unity as they approved the bipartisan legislation in the service members’ honor.
The Congressional Gold Medal is the law-making body’s “highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions,” according to the House historian.
The bill was led by Rep. Lisa McClain, R-Mich.
“I’m proud the House passed my bill that would award the Congressional Gold Medal to the 13 brave men and women who were taken far too soon,” McClain said. “… I urge the Senate to quickly pass this bill so we can properly honor these fallen service members.”
To read the bill, click here.
The 13 service members “exemplified extreme bravery and valor against armed enemy combatants” and “dedicated their lives and their heroism deserves great honor,” the bill states.
The legislation acknowledges the Aug. 26 attack was one of recent years’ deadliest days for U.S. service members.
The service members were working to evacuate American citizens, troops and Afghans from the Kabul airport after the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan’s government. The Islamic State militant group (ISIS-K) later claimed credit for the attack.