A year ago, 13 proud and patriotic American military personnel and more than 100 innocent Afghan civilians were killed in a heinous terrorist attack at the monastery gate outside Kabul airport. Many more are hurt and they will bear the effects of the traumas and experiences for the rest of their lives.
Our nation will forever mourn their sacrifices and honor these 13 precious souls who were prematurely taken from their families, loved ones and comrades while serving a noble mission on behalf of our nation:
Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Cheri T. Hoover;
Marine Corps Sergeant Johnny Rosario;
Marine Corps Sgt. Nicole L. Gee;
Marine Corps Corporal. Hunter Lopez;
Marine Corps Corporal. Dagan W. Page;
Marine Corps Corporal. Humberto A. Sanchez;
Marine Corps spear. David L. Espinosa;
Marine Corps spear. Jared M. Schmitz;
Marine Corps spear. Riley J. McCollum;
Marine Corps spear. Dylan R. Merola;
Marine Corps spear. Karim M. Nikui;
NCO 3rd Class Maxton W. Soviak; and
Army Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Knauss.
They are beloved children, brothers and sisters. They come from us. Each carries pride in their own history and the hope of uplifting their loved ones. But they are united by a common vocation: to serve something greater than themselves. They were heroes, working to save lives in the largest airlift evacuation in our history. Their example of bravery and selflessness will live forever as a testament to our American character at its best.
Following the horrific attack outside Kabul airport, we have redoubled our efforts in our relentless global campaign against ISIS and other terrorists who threaten Americans. In February we took out the world leader of ISIS in Syria, and last month in Kabul we took out the leader of al-Qaeda. We are now keeping the pressure on the terrorist threat without harming the thousands of soldiers on the ground in Afghanistan. My administration will continue to hunt down terrorists who seek to harm America, wherever they are.
Today my prayers go out to the families of the 13 fallen soldiers who lost a piece of their soul a year ago. Our nation will never be able to repay such an incredible sacrifice – but we will never fail to honor our sacred obligations to the families and survivors they left behind. I also remember all those who lost their children, partners, parents, siblings, lovers or comrades during the two decades of war in Afghanistan. 2,461 American soldiers made the greatest sacrifice. 20,744 people were injured, many whose lives are forever scarred by their injuries. It is a painful reminder that there is nothing cheap or low level in war for those of us who ask to fight for us.
I thank all members of our armed forces, veterans and their families, as well as the diplomats, intelligence professionals, counterterrorism experts and development experts who served in Afghanistan and made great sacrifices to make our country stronger and safer.