The United States lost thirteen servicemembers in Afghanistan on August 26th. The heroic service and ultimate sacrifice of these men and women will never be forgotten. They are:
Marine Lance Corporal David L. Espinoza from Texas
Marine Sergeant Nicole L. Gee from California
Marine Staff Sergeant Darin Taylor Hoover from Utah
Army Staff Sergeant Ryan C. Knauss from Tennessee
Marine Corporal Hunter Lopez from California
Marine Lance Corporal. Rylee J. McCollum from Wyoming
Marine Lance Corporal Dylan R. Merola from California
Marine Lance Cpl. Kareem M. Nikoui from California
Marine Sergeant. Johanny Rosario Pichardo from Massachusetts
Marine Corporal Humberto A. Sanchez from Indiana
Marine Lance Corporal Jared M. Schmitz from Missouri
Navy Hospital Corpsman Maxton W. Soviak from Ohio
Marine Corporal Daegan W. Page from Nebraska
Over the next hour, Senators representing many of these fallen servicemembers will honor their service and memory.
Utah’s Staff Sergeant Darin Taylor Hoover was eleven years old on September eleventh 2001. From that moment on, he knew he wanted to serve his country. Nearly twenty-one years later he was killed in Kabul, Afghanistan performing his duty as a United States Marine.
Staff Sergeant Hoover and his fellow marines were on the front lines of the operation, securing an entrance to the Hamid Karzai International airport and screening vulnerable Afghans on their escape to safety as the extremist Taliban took hold of their country. Staff Sergeant Hoover was killed by an ISIS-K suicide attack that targeted him, his teammates, and the surrounding innocent civilians.
Staff Sergeant Hoover, like all Marines, learned the Marine Corps’ values in boot camp. Those values are Honor, Courage, and Commitment. He was told that being a Marine and living these values does not begin or end with training, or service as an active-duty marine. These values forever guide marines’ decisions, service, and lives.
Staff Sergeant Hoover lived these values throughout his life.
Staff Sergeant Hoover did what he said he would do. He was honest, respectful, caring, and compassionate. He dedicated his life to the service of others in and out of uniform. He wanted the best for others and worked to make it happen. His friends and family knew him as a loving, thoughtful, hard-working man. He loved and was dedicated to serving those around him, his family, and his country.
As a young man, he made a lasting impression on those who knew him. They describe him as, “the best friend,” “selfless,” “always levelheaded,” “full of heart,” “hard working,” “a teammate you could count on,” “a born leader,” and as “a good, kind person.”
By being the type of man that he was, he honored those who knew him. He honored the uniform he wore, and in his service and sacrifice he honored the United States by representing and being the best of us.
Staff Sergeant Hoover knew the risks of his duty, this deployment, and particularly this day on the line. American civilians had been warned not to travel to the airport due to specific, credible threats of attack. The Marines at the gate did not have the option of standing down or shirking their duty. They had a mission to complete, and despite knowing the very real threat to their lives, Staff Sergeant Hoover and his Marines followed orders and did their duty.
They stood in close, physical proximity with hundreds as they checked identification and shuffled people through the gate. They did not know if, or ultimately when, an attack would come, they just knew of the threat. Nonetheless, those marines carried on, guiding innocent civilians to safety.
His father put it best, “That’s just the type of man that he was, doing what he needed to do and getting the job done for those that couldn’t do it for themselves, and he was standing out front leading his men.” Staff Sergeant Hoover demonstrated uncommon courage in fulfilling his duty
This was not Hoover’s first deployment to Afghanistan. He served three tours of duty there in his eleven years in the Corps. He knew what war and Afghanistan were like. He decided to carry on and continue serving because that is what he had committed to do. Since high school, he knew he wanted to be a Marine. His father said, “he was dead set on it.” When the news in Afghanistan developed, Staff Sergeant Hoover told his family he wanted to be in the action to help with the evacuation mission. He died doing what he loved, serving his country and leading his men.
Staff Sergeant Hoover was the oldest of the 13 servicemembers killed in this attack. His life had been defined by his love of family and country. He was committed to serving, and he lived and gave his life demonstrating what it means to be a United States Marine.
Staff Sergeant Taylor Hoover leaves a legacy with his family, Utah, and our nation. He represents the commitment of a servicemember and a Marine. His dedication to the values of the Marine Corps and full-fledged devotion to what is right will remain with us forever. He will never be forgotten. And as the preparations are made to inter him among other American heroes in Arlington National Cemetery, he can behold what the Marine Corps hymn promises and millions of good Marines before him have seen: “on heaven’s scenes, you will find the streets are guarded by United States Marines.”
Staff Sergeant Taylor Hoover joined the ranks of American heroes before him, always faithful. May God rest his soul, may God comfort his family, and may God bless us with the Honor, Courage, and Commitment that Taylor Hoover lived.