Two Marines from Riverside County were among the 13 U.S. service members killed in a suicide bombing at the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, officials confirmed Friday.
The city of Norco identified Kareem Mae’Lee Grant Nikoui, a lance corporal, as one of 11 Marines who died in the Thursday attack at Hamid Karzai International Airport.
A Navy corpsman and an Army soldier also died in the attack.
“The U.S. Marine, who graduated from Norco High School in 2019 and served in JROTC, was committed to serving his country and is survived by his mother, father and siblings,” according to the city. “Lance Cpl. Kareem Nikoui’s name will be enshrined on the `Lest We Forget Wall’ at the George A. Ingalls Veterans Memorial Plaza, which honors Norconians who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our nation.”
Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Corona, praised Nikoui for his service, saying “words are incapable of expressing our grief and mourning for the loss of Lance Cpl. Nikoui and the other U.S. service members who were killed.”
“As a proud Marine, Lance Cpl. Nikoui and his unit put themselves in harm’s way in order to provide safety to others. That’s the definition of courage,” the congressman said. “That’s the embodiment of the Marine Corps motto, `Semper Fidelis.’ I have spoken to the Nikoui family and expressed my condolences. The burden they bear is unimaginable.”
Meanwhile, the Riverside Sheriff’s Association verified that another Marine killed in the attack was Cpl. Hunter Lopez, the son of Riverside County sheriff’s Deputy Alicia Lopez and sheriff’s Capt. Herman Lopez.
“We are heartbroken to hear this sad news about Hunter, who chose to follow a life of service, selflessness, courage and sacrifice, like his parents,” according to the RSA. “Hunter was a Riverside County sheriff’s Explorer Scout with the Palm Desert Station from September 2014 to August 2017.
“Hunter joined the United States Marine Corps and was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines. Hunter, who was 22 years old at the time of his death, planned on becoming a Riverside County sheriff’s deputy after returning from his current deployment. Today the entire law enforcement community stands with the Lopez family, friends, fellow Marines and all who loved him, praying for comfort, peace.”
According to the RSA, the Lopez family requested that donations in Hunter’s memory be made to the Riverside County Deputy Sheriff Relief Foundation in the name of the Lopez family. Donations can be sent to 21810 Cactus Ave., Riverside, CA 92518.
Desert Sands Unified School District issued a statement, saying Lopez was “a beloved student of our schools.”
KESQ reported that Lopez attended La Quinta High School.
The city of La Quinta issued a statement on its Facebook page, saying, “We are all so humbled by the service and ultimate sacrifice that Hunter gave to protect our country. He was a brave and selfless soldier who answered the call to be a United States Marine. Like his parents, Hunter wanted to help serve others and protect his community. Our City Council and staff ask the community to join us in prayer and support for the Lopez family, as they navigate through this difficult time.”
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