Of the 13 service members who died in the attack at the Kabul airport on Thursday, three of them were Marines from Southern California: 20-year-old Lance Corporal Dylan Merola from Rancho Cucamonga, 22-year-old lance Corporal Kareem Nikoui from Norco, and 22-year-old Corporal Hunter Lopez from the Coachella Valley.
The remains of all 13 service members who died in the attack were brought back to the U.S. at Dover Air Force Base. The remains of Merola, Nikoui, and Lopez are among them. Each of them draped in American flags.
President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden attended the dignified transfer along with some of the fallen troops' families.
Nikoui was honored Sunday morning with a Memorial Hike to Pumpkin Rock. It was planned by the Norco High School's Junior ROTC, the Corona-Norco Unified School District, and the City of Norco. Nikoui had graduated from Norco High School in 2019.
The City of Murrieta also plans to hold a memorial service to honor all 13 service members who died.
The "Remembrance Ceremony Honoring Fallen Service Members" will be on Tuesday, August 31 at Town Square Park at 6 p.m.
The City of Coachella released a statement about the passing of Lopez:
"On behalf of City of Coachella's City Council and our residents, we would like to recognize the passing of U.S. Marine Corps Cpl Hunter Lopez. The City also wants to share our heartfelt condolences to Captain Herman Lopez, Deputy Alicia Lopez, along with their family and friends.
'We are so saddened by this tragic and sudden loss of one of the fallen U.S. Soldiers in the attack in
Afghanistan. His call to service at such an early age and his eagerness to serve his country is honorable. He was a true role model for the community,' stated Mayor Hernandez. Mayor Hernandez also added, 'Hopefully with the consent of U.S. Marine Corps Cpl Hunter Lopez’s
parents, the City would be privileged to honor their son with a plaque on the “Wall of Heroes” and a
soldier banner at Veterans Park.'"
News Channel 3 has reached out to officials as to when the remains of Marine Lopez will be returned home to the Coachella Valley. We will update you as soon we find out more information.
We will also keep you updated on any future local memorial services that will honor the fallen service members.