San Diego Mourns Pendleton Service Members Who Died In Kabul
San Diego is mourning the loss of the 10 service members from Camp Pendleton who died in a suicide attack outside the airport in Kabul Thursday.
The Pentagon announced just after midnight, Aug. 31, Kabul time, that the last U.S. flight left Afghanistan. The moment meant officially means the 13 U.S. troops who died last Thursday would be the last Americans killed in a war that lasted nearly 20 years.
A makeshift memorial is growing at the gates of Camp Pendleton, where nine of the Marines and one sailor who died, were each based.
“They’re babies. To have their life be taken from them. It’s just unbearable. I might have not known them but it’s a piece of me,” said Charlene Beard, a military spouse of a Navy corpsman.
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Colin Floate, a retired Marine master sergeant, said he felt a kinship with the young Marines.
“It breaks my heart. This is somebody’s friend. This is somebody’s son, daughter,” he said.
The large veteran community in San Diego is in mourning. The Veterans Health Administration in San Diego has seen a spike in requests for mental health assistance since the evacuation began two weeks ago, said Dr. Abigail Angkaw, who specializes in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
“We’re seeing veterans with a range of emotions. I would say in terms of recommendations, it’s probably best not to assume that somebody should respond in a specific way. And at the same time to create a space to allow them to share and to invite them to share,” she said.
Over the weekend the bodies returned to Dover Air Force Base. Among the dead, Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum who was about to become a father.
Three of the Marines were from Riverside County and the Inland Valley. Cpl. Hunter Lopez is the son of Riverside County sheriff’s Deputy Alicia Lopez and Capt. Herman Lopez.
Marine Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola, 20, was from Rancho Cucamonga. The local high school football team honored him by wearing red white and blue at their game Friday night. Lance Cpl. Kareem Nikoui was from Norco, in Riverside.
The rest of the unit is not scheduled to return to San Diego until sometime in the fall. In the meantime, Pendleton has dispatched chaplains to conduct crisis counseling onboard the base.