The United States military has confirmed that three American soldiers were killed in an attack on a base in the Afghan capital of Kabul.
NORCO, Calif. (CBSLA) – Lance Corporal Kareem Nikoui, Corporal Hunter Lopez, and Corporal Dylan R. Merola, all of the United States Marine Corps, were murdered in an assault at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Thursday.
The city of Norco verified the news on Friday, stating it is grieving the death of U.S. Marine Corps Lance Corporal Kareem Mae’Lee Grant Nikoui, 20, a Norco native and Norco High School alumnus, who was killed in action while stationed at the airport.
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The City of Norco mourns the death of @USMC Lance Corporal Kareem Nikoui, a Norco native and @NorcoHighSchool alumnus, who was killed in action while stationed at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in #Kabul, Afghanistan.
https://t.co/83GZc8KZAR pic.twitter.com/tINNFhtpne More information: https://t.co/83GZc8KZAR
August 27, 2021 — City of Norco | Horsetown USA (@CityofNorco)
Nikoui attended Norco High School and was a member of the JROTC program. According to the city, he is survived by his mother, father, and brothers.
Norco City Councilmember Ted Hoffman stated, “Kareem was one of the JROTC students we saw during a ceremony.” “I believe he participated in the 21-gun salute we held here.”
Robert Ibbetson, the principal of Norco High School, claimed his son was in the ROTC at the same time as Nikoui.
“He’s just a kind kid. Ibbetson remarked, “He had a tremendous energy about him and understood what he wanted to accomplish.” “It was inspiring to witness that sort of focus, determination, and goal-setting.”
Nikoui’s name will be inscribed on the George A. Ingalls Veterans Memorial Plaza’s “Lest We Forget Wall,” which commemorates Norconians who have made the ultimate sacrifice, according to the city.
A local guy who is connected to Nikoui is presently constructing a Gold Star Families Memorial Monument.
Norco Mayor Kevin Bash stated, “He is the relative of the kid that was murdered.” “He understands he’s doing this for himself. In Norco, we do things like this. This is who we are as a community.”
Lopez, a 22-year-old former Sheriff’s Explorer Scout for the Palm Desert station, was laid to rest Friday by the Riverside Sheriff’s Department.
Lopez is the son of Alicia Lopez, a Riverside Deputy Sheriff and RSA Board Secretary, and Herman Lopez, a Riverside Sheriff’s Captain.
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The following is a statement from the Riverside Sheriff’s Association:
“It is with great sadness that we announce the death of a cherished member of the Riverside Sheriff’s family, United States Marine Corps Corporal Hunter Lopez, who was one of 13 US military men killed at the Kabul airport during the US-led evacuation operation. We are saddened to learn of Hunter’s passing, since he, like his parents, chose a life of service, selflessness, bravery, and sacrifice. Hunter worked as an Explorer Scout with the Palm Desert Station of the Riverside Sheriff’s Department from September 2014 until August 2017.
Hunter enlisted in the US Marine Corps and served with the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines. Hunter, who was 22 years old at the time of his death, had intended to join the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department once his current deployment ended. Today, the entire law enforcement community is praying for comfort and peace for Lopez’s family, friends, fellow Marines, and everyone who loved him.”
Hunter was assassinated by a ruthless evil because he wore his United States Marnie uniform with love and pride. Hunter, who obeyed the call to serve, defend, and protect our country, died, and our whole community is in mourning. Being a Marine to Hunter wasn’t a job; it was a calling, much like his parents’ service to our community. As we mourn for Hunter and his fellow Marines who were stolen from us much too soon, there are just no words to describe how much he will be missed – Semper Fi.
The Lopez family asks that any contributions be made in their name to the Riverside County Deputy Sheriff Relief Foundation. 21810 Cactus Avenue, Riverside, CA 92518 is the address. During this very difficult time, the Lopez family respectfully asks privacy. The family will share further information and preparations for Hunter’s memorial service at a later date.”
“I am incredibly saddened and grieved for the Lopez family as they mourn over the death of their American Hero,” Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco said on Facebook on Friday. Hunter Lopez, the son of our own Captain Herman Lopez and Deputy Alicia Lopez, sadly died in the United States Marine Corps while serving his nation. On Thursday, August 26th, he was assassinated in Kabul, Afghanistan.
“Hunter proudly participated in our Sheriff’s Explorer Program before entering the Marine Corps,” he added. This terrible death has affected our whole department. “Service Above Self” is exemplified by the Lopez family.
Lance Corporal Dylan R. Merola, a 20-year-old Rancho Cucamonga resident, was also murdered in the terrorist assault.
Lance Corporal Dylan R. Merola of Rancho Cucamonga, 20 years old, poses with his mother. (Photo courtesy of a family member)
Merola had been in Afghanistan for little over a week at the time.
A loved one remarked, “He was scheduled to return home in a few of weeks.”
At his alma mater’s first football game of the season, the life of the Los Osos High School alumnus who intended to go to college and study engineering was celebrated.
Cheryl Merola, his mother, described him as “one of the greatest kids ever.” “He was kind and caring, and he would do anything for anyone.”
In Merola’s honor, a GoFundMe page has collected almost $11,000.
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The assault on Thursday killed thirteen US military personnel and wounded more than a dozen more.