Blue Star Mothers Hold Candlelight Vigil for Fallen Soldiers in Afghanistan

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Candlelight vigil
The Blue Star Mothers of Kinzua PA 203 held a candlelight vigil on Friday, Aug. 27, 2021 to honor the 13 U.S. service members who were killed in the terrorist bombing outside the Kabul airport on Aug. 26, 2021. Photo courtesy Blue Star Mothers of Kinzua PA 203.

WARREN, Pa. – The Blue Star Mothers of Kinzua PA 203 held a candlelight vigil on Friday, Aug. 27, to honor those U.S. service members who were killed in the bombing outside Kabul airport on Aug. 26.

“We are deeply saddened for our blue star families that turn to gold star families,” Blue Star Mothers of Kinzua PA 203 said in a statement. “Our hearts are with all of them. We wanted to honor our heroes. Respect, honor, remember who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Freedom isn’t free.”

Approximately 25 people attended the event which the group quickly organized in the wake of the attack. The vigil opened with a prayer by chapter president Skyla Govier. Those in attendance formed a circle and took turns lighting each other’s candles.

Volunteers held flags while a hymn was sung to honor each of the Army, Navy and Marine Corps. After each hymn, a bell was rung to honor those who lost their lives.

One toll after the Navy hymn. One more following the Army hymn. And the bell tolled 11 times after the Marine Corps hymn.

Thirteen times the bell tolled to honor the 13 service members killed last week.

Sgt. Nicole Gee (Marines), Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum (Marines), Lance Cpl. Kareem Mae’Lee Grant Nikoui (Marines), Corpsman Maxton “Max” Soviak (Navy), Cpl. Humberto Sanchez (Marines), Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola (Marines), Lance Cpl. Jared Schmitz (Marines), Staff Sgt. Taylor Hoover (Marines), Cpl. Daegan William-Tyeler Page (Marines), Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo (Marines), Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss (Army), Cpl. Hunter Lopez (Marines), and Lance Cpl. David Lee Espinoza (Marines) were killed in a suicide bombing.

Eighteen U.S. service members were wounded and more than 160 Afghans were killed in the attack.