Rep. Don Young has joined more than 150 lawmakers seeking to award the Congressional Gold Medal — Congress’s highest expression of appreciation — to the U.S. military service members killed in the Afghanistan suicide bombing.
“Our nation tragically lost 13 brave patriots who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to others,” Young said. “We must ensure that future generations of Americans never forget the names of these heroes and the courage they showed during the evacuation of Kabul.”
Young is co-sponsoring the bipartisan legislation, which Republican Rep. Lisa McClain of Michigan introduced this week. The bill has 158 cosponsors from both parties.
The bill states that Congress will “award posthumously a Congressional Gold Medal, in commemoration to the service members who perished in Afghanistan on August 26, 2021, during the evacuation of citizens of the United States and Afghan allies at Hamid Karzai International Airport.”
The legislation calls for a single gold medal award to be placed on permanent display at the Smithsonian Institution, after it is formally awarded. The Smithsonian also will make the medal available for display at other locations associated with the service members who died in Afghanistan.
The Congressional Gold Medal recognizes contributions that will have impact on America “long after the achievement,” according to the Congressional Research Service.
“I am humbled to help introduce legislation to posthumously award these fallen men and women the Congressional Gold Medal,” Young said. “It is my great hope that in the years ahead, we continue to remember their bravery; they truly were some of the best America has to offer.”
Marines, Navy and Army service members honored
Eleven Marines, one Navy hospitalman and one Army staff sergeant were killed in the attack at the Kabul airport. They came from 10 states and ranged in age from 20 to 31.
The legislation will award the Congressional Gold Medal to Staff Sgt. Darin Taylor Hoover, Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo, Sgt. Nicole Gee, Cpl. Hunter Lopez, Cpl. Daegan Page, Cpl. Humberto Sanchez, Cpl. David Lee Espinoza, Lance Cpl. Jared Schmitz, Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum, Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola, Lance Cpl. Kareem Nikoui, Hospitalman Maxton Soviak and Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss.
“These heroic men and women are gone far too soon, and we must honor them for their bravery in helping U.S. citizens and Afghan allies safely evacuate Afghanistan,” McClain said.
Sen. Murkowski: Help for evacuated Americans
More than 6,000 Americans evacuated from Afghanistan are eligible for emergency assistance under a bill the Senate adopted by unanimous consent Tuesday. The bill already passed the House.
“The temporary assistance for these Americans includes medical care, transportation and services necessary for their health or welfare such as counseling,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski said.
The Emergency Repatriation Assistance for Returning Americans Act provides $10 million this fiscal year and in fiscal 2022 to assist repatriated U.S. citizens.
Ways to assist Afghan refugees
Nonprofit agencies are assisting tens of thousands of Afghan families evacuated to U.S. military bases that are providing temporary housing. More than 170 Afghans died in a suicide bombing at the airport that killed 13 service members.
U.S. base commanders say they have been flooded with donations of diapers and nonperishable food items from Americans.
They are advising people to go through charities established to accept and distribute the donations, including:
• Alliesrefuge.org: The nonprofit organization is working at U.S. military bases to manage donations and train volunteers.
• CharityNavigator.org: The nonprofit has posted online a list of recognized international aid and relief charities responding to Afghans in crisis.