CHEYENNE, Wyo. (KIFI) -
Thirteen US service members were killed and 18 were injured in an attack outside Kabul's airport on Thursday, as the US and other Western countries raced to evacuate their citizens and allies out of Afghanistan.
While the Pentagon has not released the identities of the US service members who were killed, the family of US Marine Rylee McCollum confirmed he died in Thursday's blast.
Governor Gordon has issued the following statement after learning a Marine from Wyoming was one of the 13 U.S. service members killed in the terrorist attack at the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan.
"I’m devastated to learn Wyoming lost one of our own in yesterday's terrorist attack in Kabul, Afghanistan. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of U.S. Marine Rylee McCollum of Bondurant. Jennie and I, along with all of Wyoming and the entire nation, thank Rylee for his service."
Upon learning that Rylee McCollum, a former student of Jackson Hole High School and graduate of Summit Innovations School, was one of the U.S. Marines killed, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow released the following statement:
“Saying that I am grateful for Rylee’s service to our country does not begin to encapsulate the grief and sadness I feel today as a mother and as an American. My heart and prayers are with Rylee’s family, friends, and the entire Jackson community.
“We will find many ways to honor Rylee for this ultimate and untimely sacrifice in the coming months and years - but for now, my arms are wrapped around Rylee’s loved ones from afar and I pray they find some comfort.”
The entire TCSD family also released a statement:
"We send our deepest sympathies to his family, the friends he made in our community, and the staff who had the chance to work with Rylee. We honor and thank him for his service and are humbled by his ultimate sacrifice in protecting others."
Governor Mark Gordon has ordered both the U.S. and State of Wyoming flags to remain at half-staff through Monday, August 30 in honor and memory of U.S. Marine Rylee McCollum of Bondurant.
Flags are currently at half-staff to honor all U.S. service members and other victims of the attacks, and should remain at half-staff until sunset on August 30.
An additional flag notification will be distributed once funeral arrangements for McCollum have been announced.
Roice McCollum, Rylee's older sister, said her brother was "an amazing man with a passion for the Marines."
"He was a son, a brother, a husband and a father with a baby due in just 3 weeks," she told CNN in a statement, adding that Rylee had wanted to be a Marine his whole life, so much so that even as a toddler he carried around a toy rifle in his diapers and cowboy boots.
Roice said that her brother, a native of Wyoming, was on his first deployment and had been determined to be infantry. He was sent to Afghanistan when the evacuation began and had been manning the check point when the suicide bomb went off, she said.
"Rylee wanted to be a history teacher and a wrestling coach when he finished serving his country," she said. "Rylee will always be a hero, not just for the ultimate sacrifice he made for our country but for the way he impacted every life around him for the better. Making us stronger, kinder, teaching us to love deeper. We love you Rylee."
Rylee, she remembered, was tough but a kind and loving person that "made an impact on everyone he met."
Eleven Marines, one Navy sailor and one Army soldier were among the dead, and 18 other U.S. service members were wounded in Thursday’s bombing, which was blamed on Afghanistan’s offshoot of the Islamic State group.