When the Marines of Combat Logistics Battalion 24 returned to Kuwait from their time processing people fleeing the Taliban at Hamid Karzai International Airport, they were greeted by a Marine who reminded them of the good they did.
“It is not many that would answer that f*cking call, but you f*cking did it and you did it with pride and professionalism,” Gunnery Sgt. Christopher Duncan McClain told the Marines as they returned to Kuwait from Afghanistan, according to a video of his remarks posted to social media.
One Marine from the unit was killed when a suicide bomber set off nearly 25 pounds of explosives at the Abbey Gate entrance into the airport.
Sgt. Nicole Gee, 23, was working at the gate alongside Marines from 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, and 5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade when the bomb went off.
The Marines deployed to Afghanistan as part of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit and worked day and night processing U.S. citizens, Afghans and foreign nationals desperately leaving in the wake of the quick Taliban takeover of the country.
The Marine Corps is “aware of the subject video, which depicts a private, small-unit leadership, moment between Gunnery Sergeant Christopher Duncan McClain and forward-deployed Marines as they discuss the difficult loss of a fellow warrior, Sergeant Nicole Gee,” a spokesman from II Marine Expeditionary Force told Marine Corps Times in an email Sept. 24.
The MEF could not confirm the command relationship between McClain and Gee, according to the email.
“These Marines, with sailors, soldiers and airmen, helped nearly 130,000 people find a better, freer life in the largest non-combatant evacuation operation in history,” a letter written by Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Troy Black said of the Marines who deployed to the airport.
“You went over there and you helped people you never f*cking seen before, just because they are other humans and that’s what we f*cking do,” McClain said.
In total 11 Marines, 1 Navy corpsman and one soldier were killed in the blast, along with roughly 170 Afghans.
The names of the other service members killed: Staff Sgt. Darin T. Hoover, 31, with 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, out of Camp Pendleton, California; Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo, 25, with 5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, Naval Support Activity Bahrain; Cpl. Hunter Lopez, 22, with 2/1; Cpl. Daegan W. Page, 23, with 2/1; Cpl. Humberto A. Sanchez, 22, with 2/1; Lance Cpl. David L. Espinoza, 20, with 2/1; Lance Cpl. Jared M. Schmitz, 20, with 2/1; Lance Cpl. Rylee J. McCollum, 20, with 2/1; Lance Cpl. Dylan R. Merola, 20, with 2/1; and Lance Cpl. Kareem M. Nikoui, 20, with 2/1. Navy corpsman Maxton W. Soviak, 22, assigned to 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton, California, and soldier Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Knauss, 23, assigned to 9th PSYOP Battalion, 8th PSYOP Group, Ft. Bragg, North Carolina.
“She was kind, compassionate, caring, strong, fearless, a mentor, a warrior, a Marine’s Marine, and a true American hero,” said Cheryl Juels, Gee’s aunt said at a memorial service for the young Marine.
Gee’s qualities were echoed by Sgt. Mallory Harrison, the sergeant’s best friend.
“She was brilliant, she was bold and she was brave,” Harrison said. “Nicole died doing what she loved, she lost her life so others may live and without a doubt, she died proud.”
The gunnery sergeant told the mourning Marines who served alongside Gee in 24 CLB that they were not at fault for losing their comrade.
“We lost one, it is not your f*cking fault, none of you it is none of your f*cking fault,” the gunnery sergeant said.
“She was doing what she f*cking loved doing, you were doing what you loved doing because you were with everybody here,” he added.