Lawmakers push to award Congressional Gold Medal to fallen service members
More than 150 lawmakers introduced a bill on Tuesday that seeks to posthumously award the Congressional Gold Medal to the 13 U.S. service members who were killed in a suicide bombing in Afghanistan last week.
The service members were killed in a suicide bombing, perpetrated by ISIS-K, at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul last Thursday. The Defense Department said 11 Marines, one Navy hospitalman and one Army staff sergeant were killed in the attack.
The lawmakers, in the text of the bill, noted that the attack marked “the deadliest single day of the war for the United States in more than a decade.”
The service members came from 10 states, and ranged in age from 20 to 31.
The Pentagon released a full list of those killed on Saturday: Staff Sgt. Darin Hoover, 31; Cpl. Hunter Lopez, 22; Cpl. Daegan Page, 23; Cpl. Humberto Sanchez, 22; Lance Cpl. Jared Schmitz, 20; Lance Cpl. David Espinoza, 20; Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum, 20; Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola, 20; Lance Cpl. Kareem Nikoui, 20; Sgt. Nicole Gee, 23; Sgt. Johanny Rosariopichardo, 25; Navy Hospitalman Maxton Soviak, 22, and Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss, 23.
The bill, spearheaded by Rep. Lisa McClain (R-Mich.), has 158 cosponsors from both parties.
The legislation says the service members “went above and beyond the call of duty to protect citizens of the United States and our allies to ensure they are brought to safety in an extremely dangerous situation as the Taliban regained control over Afghanistan,” adding that they “exemplified extreme bravery and valor against armed enemy combatants.”
“The American service members dedicated their lives and their heroism deserves great honor,” the bill added.
It calls for awarding the 13 service members a “single gold medal of appropriate design.”
If passed by Congress and signed into law, the medal would be given to the Smithsonian Institution for “display as appropriate and made available for research” after it is presented.
“These heroic men and women are gone far too soon, and we must honor them for their bravery in helping U.S. citizens and Afghan allies safely evacuate Afghanistan,” McClain said in a statement.
“My heart aches for the families and loved ones of our servicemembers. We will always remember their service and pay tribute to their sacrifice,” she added.
President Biden mourned the loss of the 13 service members with their families at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Sunday as flag-draped cases holding the service members’ remains were brought to the U.S.
Some of the family members of the slain military members, however, are criticizing Biden after their meeting with him. One father of a marine who was killed told Fox News’s Sean Hannity that it “didn’t go well.”
He said Biden “talked a bit more about his own son than he did my son, and that didn’t sit well with me,” referring to the president’s late-son Beau, an Iraq War veteran who died of brain cancer in 2015.