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Two Soldiers Based In NC Killed In Kabul Bombings; Lejeune Sending Refugee Help To Virginia

Two of the 13 service members killed in last week's bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan were based at North Carolina military installations.

Sargent Nicole Gee was assigned to the Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Lejeune. Gee was one of two women killed in the attack at the Hamid Karzai International Airport.

Multiple media outlets report that one of the last photos Gee shared with family was of her holding a baby as she assisted in the evacuation effort. Gee was from Sacramento, California. She was a maintenance technician with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

Gee’s military awards include the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal and the National Defense and Global War on Terrorism Service Medals.

“Our unit mourns the immense loss of Sgt. Gee, our fallen service members, and the Afghan people who lost their lives in this attack,” said Brig. Gen. Forrest C. Poole III, commanding general of 2nd Marine Logistics Group. “I express my deepest heartfelt condolences to Sgt. Gee’s family, friends, and loved ones. We will continue to provide support to all those affected by this incident.”

Staff Sargent Ryan Knauss also died in the bombing. He was assigned to the 8th Psychological Operations Group at Fort Bragg. It was Knauss's second deployment to Afghanistan, and he was also assigned to the 1st Special Forces Command.

Knauss's wife, Alena, works at the MOD shop in Southern Pines, and the salon posted on Facebook that it will accept donations on her behalf. Knauss was from Nashville, Tennessee.

“Ryan was the embodiment of an Army Special Operations Forces soldier, a testament to the professionalism of the non-commissioned officer corps, and a steadfast husband and teammate," Col. Jeremy Mushtare of the the 8th Psychological Operations Group said. "His loss is devastating to our formation and Army family."

Both Gee and Knauss were 23 years old.

In a statement issued Friday, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper ordered all United States and North Carolina flags at state facilities to be lowered to half-staff until sunset on Monday to honor the U.S. servicemembers who died in the terrorist attack on Aug. 26 in Kabul.

"August 26 was a tragic day for our country," Cooper said. "Kristin and I are praying for the families of the servicemembers and civilians who lost their lives in Kabul."

Troops from North Carolina are being sent to Virginia to help with thousands of Afghan refugees being temporarily housed on military bases.

Officials at Camp Lejeune said Friday that about 700 Marines and sailors will deploy from North Carolina bases to Marine Corps Base Quantico in Northern Virginia. About 5,000 Afghans are expected to be housed temporarily at that base and another 10,000 at Fort Pickett, south of Richmond.

Meanwhile, more than a thousand Lejeune Marines and even more 82nd Airborne Division soldiers from Fort Bragg are at the other end of the refugee pipeline. They’re helping secure Kabul airport as Afghans and others are evacuated.

Copyright 2021 North Carolina Public Radio

Dave DeWitt is WUNC's Feature News Editor. As an editor, reporter, and producer he's covered politics, environment, education, sports, and a wide range of other topics.
Jay Price is the military and veterans affairs reporter for North Carolina Public Radio - WUNC.
Mitchell Northam