Less than a week before the holiday, six families are mourning the loss of their loved ones who died when a Taliban suicide bomber drove a motorcycle packed with explosives into a U.S-Afghan air patrol.
The attack was the deadliest on U.S. forces in Afghanistan this year, reports CBS News correspondent Margaret Brennan.
Air Force Major Adrianna Vorderbruggen was the highest-ranking officer killed in Monday's attack.
"She's a hero and I hope she's a hero to all of us, not just to me," said her older brother, Christopher Vordergbruggen, choking on tears.
He said his trailblazing sister was charged with protecting the largest U.S. military base in Afghanistan.
"She intentionally would go on these patrols with her men because she wanted to show them that she would do what she was asking them to do," he said.
Vorderbruggen is one of the first openly gay female U.S. Air Force officers killed in action. She had long championed the repeal of the military's "Don't ask, Don't tell" policy - a change that now makes her wife and son eligible for military benefits.
"She inspired us all I think by just being herself, and being proud to be who she was," her older brother said.
Flags in New York are flying at half-staff Wednesday to honor a New York City police detective who was also killed in the attack. The 15-year veteran of the New York Police Department was also a member of the Air National Guard, and on his second tour to Afghanistan.
Staff Sgt. Peter Taub was also killed. His mother runs a Washington restaurant, now closed so she can "mourn this horrible loss."
The three other airmen killed were Michael Cinco, Chester McBride and Louis Bonacasa.
The Taliban has gained strength since the end of the U.S. combat mission. They proudly released a photo on Tuesday of the bomber they claimed killed the Americans.
Now U.S. and British forces are again coming to the aid of the struggling Afghan army, which is trying to hold off the Taliban takeover of a crucial southern province.