Joe Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, met the families of service members killed in the terror attack, the White House said.
The couple then witnessed the transfer of the military members’ remains from an aircraft flown to the base in Delaware.
The 11 Marines have been identified as Rylee McCollum, Nicole Gee, Dylan Merola, Kareem Nikoui, Jared Schmitz, Humberto Sanchez, Hunter Lopez, Taylor Hoover, Daegan Page, Johanny Rosario Pichardo, and 20-year-old David Lee Espinoza.
A US Navy medic has been identified as Max Soviak. Finally, a US Army soldier named Ryan Knauss was also killed.
Five of the troops were just 20 years old – born not long before the attacks of September 11, 2001, which spurred the US to invade Afghanistan to topple al-Qaida and dismantle the Taliban.
“The 13 service members that we lost were heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice in service of our highest American ideals and while saving the lives of others,” Biden said in a statement on Saturday.
Marine Nicole Gee was previously captured caring for the baby of an Afghan evacuee in a touching photo before being killed in the blast on Thursday.
Sgt. Gee, 23, posted the picture of her holding the tiny baby to Instagram on August 20 alongside the caption: “Kabul, Afghanistan. I love my job.”
The photo was later posted to Twitter by the Defense Department’s official account.
Gee’s last post, a picture of her escorting evacuees onto a plane at Hamid Karzai international airport, was uploaded two days later.
“Escorting evacuees onto the bird🤍” the caption read.
But the same week, Gee was identified as one of the 13 US troops who died in a suicide bombing that killed 170 in total.
The Sergeant was stationed at Hamid Karzai’s Abbey Gate on an assignment to help evacuate women and girls fleeing the Taliban when the explosion went off.
Lance Cpl. Joyner Seaman, a friend of Gee’s, told the Daily Beast: “She was truly a badass individual—and more importantly, she was the nicest person. She was a Marine’s Marine.”
Gee, who was stationed at Camp Lejuene in North Carolina, had first joined to accompany her husband, who is also a Marine.
“She thought it was a good idea to do it herself and it was one of the best decisions,” Seaman added.
Sgt. Mallory Harrison, who had roomed with Gee at Camp Lejeune, also took to Facebook to post a heartbreaking tribute following the news of her death in the blast.
“We’ve been attached at the hip from the beginning. I can’t quite describe the feeling I get when I force myself to come back to reality & think about how I’m never going to see her again,” the post read.
“How her last breath was taken doing what she loved—helping people—at HKIA in Afghanistan. Then there was an explosion. And just like that, she’s gone.”
Seaman also criticized the withdrawal from Afghanistan, saying it was a mistake to pull out military assets before evacuations were completed.
“This withdrawal was conducted improperly,” he said. “There were veteran military leaders who should have known better.
“It was a logistical and tactical planning error,” he added.
But he called the withdrawal “motivation” for service members: “This is what we signed up for. It’s surreal but this is motivating [us] to be better.”
The 13 troops who died in Kabul were the first US service members killed in Afghanistan since February 2020.
Family members of other Marines killed in the blast slammed President Biden for mishandling the withdrawal operation.
“I’ve lost my son, but there are still Marines over there. I am scared s**tless to see what’s going to happen next, and what’s going to come our way,” the father of slain service member Rylee McCollum said.
“I’m a carpenter; I’ve never served. But even I could see that that was a dangerous situation,” echoed Steve Nikoui, another father whose son was killed in the explosion, told Fox News.
“From what I saw of the airport that they were in it looked like a turkey shoot.”
“They sent my son over there as a paper pusher and then had the Taliban outside providing security. I blame my own military leaders… Biden turned his back on him. That’s it,” he also told the Daily Beast.