Among the Troops WhoDied, Two Women on the Frontline

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One of the past photos that Marine Sgt. Nicole Gee shared with her household shows her successful dusty assemblage armor with a rifle, her agelong blond hairsbreadth pulled back, her hands successful tactical gloves. Amid the chaos of Kabul, those hands are cautiously cradling a baby.

It was a infinitesimal captured connected the frontlines of the airport, wherever Marines worked feverishly to shepherd tens of thousands of evacuees done chaotic and unsafe razor ligament gates. It showed however adjacent successful the tumult, galore took clip to comfortableness the families who made it through.

In a abbreviated connection posted with the photo, the sergeant said, “I emotion my job🤘🏼”

Sergeant Gee ne'er made it out.

She was 1 of the 13 troops killed erstwhile a termination weaponry ripped done the crowds astatine the gross this week, sidesplitting astir 200 people. The Defense Department connected Saturday officially identified the work members who were killed, and household and friends paid tribute to their lives and their sacrifice.

“She believed successful what she was doing, she loved being a Marine,” her brother-in-law, Gabriel Fuoco, said. “She wouldn’t person wanted to beryllium anyplace else.”

Sergeant Gee, 23, of Roseville, Calif., was 1 of 2 women successful azygous killed astatine the gate. The different was Marine Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo, 25, of Lawrence, Mass. Sergeant Rosario was commended by her portion successful May for excellence successful a proviso main occupation usually fixed to idiosyncratic of higher rank.

“Her work was not lone important to evacuating thousands of women and children, but epitomizes what it means to beryllium a Marine: putting herself successful information for the extortion of American values truthful that others mightiness bask them,” Marine First Lt. John Coppola said astir Sergeant Rosario successful a statement.

The 2 pistillate sergeants volunteered for a occupation that successful culturally blimpish Afghanistan could person been carried retired lone by women: searching different women and children arsenic they passed done the gates. But the 2 sergeants were besides standout Marines successful a unit that is dilatory changing, putting much women successful combat roles and positions of leadership.

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Credit...via Reuters

For astir of subject history, women were not allowed successful combat. The fewer admitted to the Marines mostly did clerical work. In 2001, astatine the commencement of the warfare successful Afghanistan, women Marines were not allowed to beryllium assigned to gross duty, said Kate Germano, a retired Marine lieutenant colonel.

But decades of insurgency wars fought successful blimpish Muslim countries forced the subject to evolve. A struggle with nary frontlines often enactment women successful combat, whether it was successful their occupation statement oregon not, and section cultures meant pistillate engagement teams often had to travel infantry troops connected missions.

The Marine Corps slowly, often grudgingly, opened each combat jobs to women. They present marque up astir 9 percent of the force. “Every year, much women are retired front, bearing the load much arsenic with men,” Ms. Germano said.

Sergeant Gee grew up playing softball, ne'er reasoning she mightiness 1 time articulation the military. But erstwhile her precocious schoolhouse sweetheart, Jarod Gee, enlisted successful the Marines, she decided to follow. They soon married.

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Sergeant Gee with her husband, Jarod Gee.
Credit...via Gabriel Fuoco

Described by her friends and household arsenic vivacious, confident, bright, and strong, Sergeant Gee graduated from her corporal schoolhouse astatine the apical of her people and was meritoriously promoted to sergeant successful Kuwait, not agelong earlier landing successful Afghanistan.

Photos from the airdrome amusement her walking young girls crossed the tarmac to a hulking cargo pitchy and standing guard adjacent to agelong lines of Afghans walking up the ramp of 1 of the planes.

She was not intimidated by the demanding, mostly antheral satellite of the Marines, her household said.

“She was a trailblazer successful a sense,” Mr. Fuoco said. “When she did something, she did it each the way, and I truly deliberation she enjoyed trying to surpass the men.”

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That included successful carnal feats. She held a basal grounds successful her value people for dormant lifting 280 pounds. But, Mr. Fuoco said, she was besides benignant and tender. After this deployment, she talked astir starting a family.

Understand the Taliban Takeover successful Afghanistan


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Who are the Taliban? The Taliban arose successful 1994 amid the turmoil that came aft the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan successful 1989. They utilized brutal nationalist punishments, including floggings, amputations and wide executions, to enforce their rules. Here’s much connected their root communicative and their grounds arsenic rulers.

“Her past enactment was taken doing what she loved — helping people,” her roommate and chap Marine, Sgt. Mallory Harrison, said successful a Facebook post.

For their generation, Sergeant Harrison wrote, stories of combat deaths often felt similar thing from the past — stories told by elders astir a warfare that younger Marines had missed. Deployment meant enactment that was often dull and quiet. Then abruptly combat came ripping back, existent and raw.

“Then atrocious radical bash atrocious things, and each of a sudden, the peaceful interval you were connected turns into you going to Afghanistan & for some, ne'er coming back,” Sergeant Harrison wrote. “It turns into your friends ne'er coming home. There’s nary mode to adequately hole for that feeling. No PowerPoint training, nary people from the chaps, nothing. Nothing tin hole you.”

Sergeant Gee was serving beside different Marines who, similar her, shared a emotion of the Marine Corps and a committedness to their work. On Saturday, the communities they called location paid tribute.

The work members killed successful the attack, successful summation to Sergeant Gee and Sergeant Rosario, see Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Darin T. Hoover, 31, of Salt Lake City; Corps Cpl. Hunter Lopez, 22, of Indio, Calif.; Corps Cpl. Daegan W. Page, 23, of Omaha; Cpl. Humberto A. Sanchez, 22, of Logansport, Ind.; Lance Cpl. David L. Espinoza, 20, of Rio Bravo, Texas; Lance Cpl. Jared M. Schmitz, 20, of St. Charles, Mo.; Lance Cpl. Rylee J. McCollum, 20, of Jackson, Wyo.; Lance Cpl. Dylan R. Merola, 20, of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.; Lance Cpl. Kareem M. Nikoui, 20, of Norco, Calif. The dormant besides see the Navy Hospitalman Maxton W. Soviak, 22, of Berlin Heights, Ohio, and Army Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Knauss, 23, of Corryton, Tenn.

In the cities wherever they live, scattered crossed the country, radical gathered to remember. In Utah, Gov. Spencer Cox ordered flags crossed the authorities lowered to half-staff for the oldest Marine killed, Sergeant Hoover. Echoing the sentiments of many, Mr. Cox said successful a statement, “Staff Sergeant Hoover served valiantly arsenic a Marine and died serving his chap countrymen arsenic good arsenic America’s allies successful Afghanistan.”

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