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Memorial For "The Fallen 13" Unveiled In Norco On Saturday

NORCO (CBSLA) — The City of Norco unveiled a tribute to "The Fallen 13," the 13 service members who were killed in Afghanistan in 2021, on Saturday in the form of a flower and stone garden on Sixth Street.

fallen 13 memorial

The memorial features pictures, inscriptions, American flags and plaques honoring the 11 marines, and two service members who were killed during a suicide bombing on August, 26, 2021, as troops were being withdrawn from Afghanistan.

Dozens of locals and fellow service members - some of whom also served in Afghanistan - gathered to remember those 13 service members who gave the ultimate sacrifice on that day, as they worked to help remove the remaining troops that were ordered to leave the war-torn country.

the fallen 13

Three of The Fallen 13 hailed from Southern California - Corporal Hunter Lopez, 22-years-old, Lance Corporal Dylan R. Merola, 20-years-old and Lance Corporal Kareem M. Nikoui, 20-years-old.

Nikoui hailed from Norco, one of the main reasons that the memorial was installed in the city. His mother, Shana Chappell, was at the unveiling, where she spoke with CBS reporters.

"It shows that everybody here remembers our kids - they remember their sacrifices, and they're showing their appreciation for our children, for our 13 fallen. They're also showing their support for us as parents so it means a lot to me," she said.

The memorial's installation efforts began back in September, led by community members and volunteers like Anthony Simoneau and his wife Tina. They viewed the memorial as, "a permanent memorial for all of them," in a highly trafficked area in Norco, "a place where everybody can come visit... just to sit and reflect and think about what we all have and what they gave us."

That was exactly the plan for organizers, who installed the tribute in a popular area, so people could visit whenever they were out and about, enjoying the day-to-day habits that Americans can enjoy due to the sacrifices made by service members.

Another of The Fallen 13's family was in attendance, as Hunter Lopez's father, Herman spoke with reporters at the ceremony, "One of our goals is for Hunter's name to always be out there, and the names of all the service members that died with him that day. So this is another milestone toward that effort."

The Fallen 13 are:

  • Sergeant Johany Rosario Pichardo, 25-years-old of Lawrence, Mass.
  • Sergeant Nicole L. Gee, 23-years-old of Sacramento, Calif.
  • Staff Sergeant Darin T. Hoover, 31-years-old of Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Corporal Hunter Lopez, 22-years-old of Indio, Calif.
  • Corporal Daegan W. Page, 23-years-old of Omaha, Neb.
  • Corporal Humberto A. Sanchez, 22-years-old of Logansport, Ind.
  • Lance Corporal David L. Espinoza, 20-years-old of Rio Bravo, Texas
  • Lance Corporal Jared M Schmitz, 20-years-old of St. Charles, Mo.
  • Lance Corporal Rylee J. McCollum, 20-years-old of Jackson, Wyo.
  • Lance Corporal Dylan R. Merola, 20-years-old of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.
  • Lance Corporal Kareem M. Nikoui, 20-years-old of Norco, Calif.
  • Navy Corpsman Maxton W. Soviak, 22-years old of Berlin Heights, Ohio
  • Staff Sergeant Ryan C. Knauss, 23-years-old of Corryton, Tenn.
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