A Marine and expectant father from Wyoming was among the 13 American troopskilled in a suicide bombing Thursday near Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport, Wyoming state officials said Friday.
Rylee McCollum of Bondurant was among the dead, officials said.
“I’m devastated to learn Wyoming lost one of our own in yesterday’s terrorist attack in Kabul,” Gov. Mark Gordon said in a statement thanking McCollum for his service.
McCollum was a 2019 graduate of Jackson Hole High School, according to a statement from State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow.
“Saying that I am grateful for Rylee’s service to our country does not begin to encapsulate the grief and sadness I feel today as a mother and as an American. My heart and prayers are with Rylee’s family, friends, and the entire Jackson community,” Balow said.
“We will find many ways to honor Rylee for this ultimate and untimely sacrifice in the coming months and years – but for now, my arms are wrapped around Rylee’s loved ones from afar and I pray they find some comfort.”
The U.S. Department of Defense did not immediately confirm McCollum’s death.
“It is with extremely heavy hearts that we learned several Marines and other service members were killed and wounded in the Kabul attacks today. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families as they are notified of this devastating loss,” David Berger, commandant of the Marine Corps, said in a statement.
The Jackson Hole News & Guide reported McCollum was a “brother, a son, friend, husband and soon-to-be father to a baby due in three weeks.”
Roice McCollum, Rylee’s older sister, confirmed to the Casper Star-Tribune, Wyoming’s statewide newspaper, that McCollum was expecting a baby in three weeks.
“He wanted to be a Marine his whole life and carried around his rifle in his diapers and cowboy boots,” McCollum’s sister told the Star-Tribune. “He was determined to be in infantry… Rylee wanted to be a history teacher and a wrestling coach when he finished serving his country. He’s a tough, kind, loving kid who made an impact on everyone he met. His joke and wit brought so much joy.”
Chi McCollum, another of Rylee’s sisters, called her brother “my hero, our hero, an American … hero” in a Facebook post Friday.
“My heart is completely shattered,” McCollum wrote. “I love you so much.”
Earlier this month, McCollum wrote a post on Facebook telling her brother to “stay safe,” and adding, “Can’t wait for your return and to meet my niece or nephew.”
The death toll from the blast includes 11 U.S. Marines, a Navy hospital corpsman, and one Army soldier, American officials said. At least 18 U.S. service members were injured. It was the deadliest day for American forces in Afghanistan since August 2011.
About 169 Afghan people died, officials told the Associated Press. CBS News was reporting that number at 170.
“We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay,” President Joe Biden said Thursday evening.
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