Honoring the Fallen
Dear Friend,

It didn’t have to be like this. While there are a lot of thoughts and emotions that come to mind when I think about the disaster that we all watched unfold in Afghanistan these last few weeks, I’ll save many of those for a later date. Today, I want to take some time to honor the 13 brave American heroes that were killed in the August 26th terrorist attack at the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Lance Corporal Jared Schmitz of Wentzville, Missouri was just 20 years old when his life was cut short by that cowardly terrorist attack. He had decided to become a Marine in high school, committed his life to accomplishing that goal and enlisted just after graduating high school in 2019.


Corporal Daegan Page was a few years older at 23. He planned on going to trade school when his enlistment was up, possibly becoming a lineman. He wasn’t from Missouri, but his father was. Corporal Page grew up in Red Oak, Iowa and graduated from high school in Omaha, Nebraska. His father is from the same small town in Northwest Missouri that I call home, Tarkio.


Marine Sergeant Nicole Gee wasn’t from Missouri or anywhere in the Midwest, but rather Roseville, California. I wanted to highlight her sacrifice because I believe this photo that she posted less than a week before her death with the caption “I love my job,” truly captures some of what her fellow Marines, Soldiers, and Sailors went through in those final days.


While tasked with a near impossible mission to secure a civilian airfield in a hostile nation handed over to the Taliban and terrorists by the Biden Administration, all put their own lives at risk to care for those that needed sanctuary—American citizens and our allies.

My heart breaks for these three Marines whose lives were cut far too short, along with 10 more Marines, Soldiers, and Sailors killed that day:

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

Marine Sgt. Johanny Rosariopichardo, 25, of Lawrence, Massachusetts;

Marine Cpl. Hunter Lopez, 22, of Indio, California;

Marine Cpl. Humberto A. Sanchez, 22, of Logansport, Indiana;

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

Marine Lance Cpl. Rylee J. McCollum, 20, of Jackson, Wyoming;

Marine Lance Cpl. Dylan R. Merola, 20, of Rancho Cucamonga, California;

Marine Lance Cpl. Kareem M. Nikoui, 20, of Norco, California;

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

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

While words cannot sufficiently honor their ultimate sacrifice, I hope all reading this can take some time to join me in uplifting the families and loved ones of these heroes.

It didn’t have to be this way. These Marines, Sailors, Soldiers, and Airmen didn’t have to be put on an indefensible island. We didn’t have to leave Americans behind. We didn’t have to turn over an entire country to terrorists. It’s time the President acknowledges that, stops passing the buck, and starts taking real responsibility for his actions.


Sam Graves