(AP/CBS4) – Heartwrenching details began emerging Friday about some of the 13 U.S. troops killed in a suicide bombing at Afghanistan’s Kabul airport, which also claimed the lives of more than 160 Afghans. Eleven Marines, one Navy sailor and one Army soldier were among the dead, while 18 other U.S. service members were wounded in Thursday’s bombing.
Among the victims is a young husband from Wyoming with a child on the way.
Rylee McCollum, a Lance Corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps. and native of Bondurant, Wyoming, was married and his wife is expecting a baby in three weeks, his sister, Cheyenne McCollum, said.
“He was so excited to be a dad, and he was going to be a great dad,” McCollum said. She said her brother “was a Marine before he knew he was allowed to be a Marine … He’d carry around his toy rifle and wear his sister’s pink princess snow boots and he’d either be hunting or he was a Marine. Sometimes it would be with nothing on underneath, just a T-shirt.”
McCollum said her brother wanted to be a history teacher and a wrestling coach once he completed his service. Another sister, Roice McCollum, told the Casper Star Tribune that her brother was on his first deployment when the evacuation in Afghanistan began.
“We want to make sure that people know that these are the kids that are sacrificing themselves, and he’s got a family who loves him and a wife who loves him and a baby that he’ll never get to meet,” Cheyenne McCollum said.
Regi Stone, the father of one of Rylee McCollum’s friends, described McCollum as “a good kid,” who was resilient, smart and courageous. Stone shared a note that his wife, Kim, sent to their son Eli Stone, who is also in the military and deployed elsewhere. In the note, Kim wrote that she remembered telling the friends to run the other way if they had to go in first and that both of them said, “If we die doing this, we die doing what we love.”
Colorado Congresswoman Lauren Boebert shared a letter to Rylee’s mother, Kathy, who lives in Montrose, expressing her condolences.
“Kathy, on behalf of a grateful nation, we mourn with you for the loss of your son,” the post stated in part.
Boebert’s district, the 3rd Congressional, covers all of the Western Slope including the city of Montrose.
The attack was blamed on Afghanistan’s offshoot of the Islamic State group. The U.S. said it was the most lethal day for American forces in Afghanistan since 2011. The White House said President Joe Biden will look for opportunities to honor the servicemembers who lost their lives, many of whom were men in their early 20s.
By AMY BETH HANSON, JANIE HAR and AMY FORLITI
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)