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'He was my best friend' loved ones reflect on those killed in Kabul bombing

Posted at 8:30 PM, Aug 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-29 11:02:47-04

(KGTV) -- ABC10 News has confirmed the names of the thirteen servicemen and women killed when a suicide bomber attacked the airport in Kabul. The US Marines confirmed that ten out of the thirteen were stationed at Camp Pendleton, nine Marines, and 1 Sailor, who all bravely served our country.

"At first, you don't believe it," shared Kayleigh Snedeger. "It took a minute."

Snedeger is best friends with 31-year-old Sgt. Darin Hoover, one of the 13 lost in the explosion. "He came home so many times that you never thought he wouldn't," expressed an emotional Snedeger.

As she cried tears, Snedeger reflected on losing her "go-to" for over 20 years. "I'm just honored to be his friend."

Sgt. Hoover is just one in a list of names of the fallen coming out of Camp Pendleton.

ABC10 News had already named six: Lance Corporal Kareem Nikoui, Corporal Hunter Lopez, Navy Corpsman Max Soviak, Lance Corporal David Espinoza, Lance Corporal Rylee McCollum, and Corporal Daegan Page.

The four other identities confirmed on Saturday include Sgt. Hoover, 20-year-old Corporal Dylan Merola from Rancho Cucamonga, 22-year-old Corporal Humberto Sanchez from Logansport, Indiana, and 20-year-old Lance Corporal Jared Schmitz from St. Charles, Missouri.

"When something happens to one Marine, it's all Marines. You feel it in your heart," stated Leroy Harris, who has an uncle who is in the Marines.

He, along with strangers by dozen, paid their respects to these men and women. Those like Sara Malintsky, who worked for three years at Camp Pendleton's Hospital as a registered nurse, said she served men and women just like those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

"For them to die for our country," she said with tears in her eyes, "means everything."

A Marine at the memorial near the entrance to Camp Pendleton told 10News that he was friends with one of the fallen. He left behind two beer cans at the site. One was for his friend who is among the 13, and another for a friend who is still overseas.

Those who left a piece of themselves at the site remain wishing, hoping, and praying that more men and women in uniform come home safely.

"He died doing what he loved, and serving his country was all he ever talked about," recalled Snedeger. "Just want the world to know he is a hero, they all are, and not to forget any of them."

The Department of Defense released the identities of the three others, not based out of Camp Pendleton, who make up the thirteen.

Sergeant Nicole L. Gee was originally from Sacramento and based out of Camp LeJune in North Carolina. Army Staff Sergeant Ryan C. Knauss was originally from Tennessee, and based out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Sergeant Johanny Rosariopichardo from Lawerence, Massachusetts, was with the 5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade in Bahrain and also lost his life during the explosions in Kabul.