Max Soviak and Kareem Nikoui have been identified as two of the U.S. service members who perished in the devastating explosions at the Kabul International Airport in Afghanistan Thursday. The attack halted evacuations for hours, with 12 U.S. service members killed in the blasts, and another 15 injured. Now families and loved ones are mourning the loss of those who were trying to help Americans and Afghans flee the country from fears of Taliban rule.
According to an Afghan public health official, 60 people were killed in the explosions with at least 140 others injured.
Max Soviak, Navy Hospital Corpsman
Born in Ohio, Max Soviak, 22, was a navy hospital corpsman stationed in Kabul during the explosion. He was reportedly killed by the suicide attack at Abbey Gate outside the Kabul Airport, which the U.S. believes was carried out by ISIS-K fighters.
“On behalf of the entire Soviak family, we want to thank all those who have extended their support and prayers [for] the loss of our son, Max,” the family said in a statement shared with Fox News. “Max was a wonderful son who loved his family, his community, and was proud to serve in the U.S. Navy.”
“We are incredibly proud of his service to our country… and pray for the speedy recovery of all of those wounded in Afghanistan,” the family’s statement read. “Words cannot express how heartbroken we are with this news and we will miss Max tremendously. As you can imagine, this is a very difficult time for our family and we respectfully request that you honor our privacy. Thank you.”
Growing up attending Edison High School in Northeast Ohio, Max Soviak competed in many sports such as football, wrestling, tennis, track, and marching band. He worked as a lifeguard and a maintenance technician before joining the Marines.
The Edison School District released a statement saying that “Max was full of life in everything he did.”
Before the attack, Max had posted an ominous photo on Instagram of him and two other Marines, writing, “It’s kill or be killed, definitely trynna be on the kill side.”
“My beautiful, intelligent, beat-to-the-sound of his own drum, annoying, charming baby brother was killed yesterday helping to save lives,” Max’s sister Marilyn wrote on Instagram. “He was just a kid. we are sending kids over there to die. kids with families that now have holes just like ours.”
Kareem Nikoui, Marine Corpsman
Karem Nikoui, a corpsman with the Marines from Norco, Ca., was the second name released by the Pentagon as a fallen U.S. service member. Speaking with The Daily Beast, Kareem’s father, Steven Nikoui, said that Marines came to the door at 7 p.m. Thursday to break the news.
“I stayed home from work yesterday because there was that attack and I knew he was there,” Steven said. “All day I was glued to the TV.”
Steven said that the Marines were already more choked up than he was. He wanted them to leave so that he could be the one to break the awful news to his wife and son when they got home.
“I haven’t gone to bed all night, I’m still in shock,” he said last night. “I haven’t been able to grasp everything that’s going on. He was devoted—he was going to make a career out of this, and he wanted to go. No hesitation for him to be called to duty.”
Speaking to the world in a televised address Thursday night, U.S. President Joe Biden declared that, “To those who carried out this attack, as well as anyone who wishes America harm, know this: We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay. I will defend our interests and our people with every measure at my command.”