CAMP PENDLETON SOUTH, Calif. — Thursday's deaths of U.S. service members in Kabul, the majority of whom were Marines, has been especially difficult for our strong military community here in San Diego.
Throughout the nation, the families of service members await word on the identities of those killed outside the Kabul airport: a tragedy that hits especially close to home for the thousands of U.S. Marines who serve at Camp Pendleton and MCRD San Diego.
"I pray for all the families," said Ezora Richard, who dropped off flowers and paid her respects to those service members who gave their lives in Thursday's suicide bombing in Afghanistan.
She said that own nephew just retired from the Marines after 20 years.
"I feel for these families," she told News 8. "It could have been my nephew."
"Our Marines know they will continue to be at risk," said Republican Congressman Darrell Issa, who added that the likelihood is high that Thursday's loss of life will have some ties to San Diego.
"There will be Marines that trained at MCRD," he told News 8. "There will be Marines who came out of Camp Pendleton at one point."
Issa pointed out that as the U.S. works to get Americans out of Kabul by the August 31 deadline, that military intelligence had indicated an attack like this was likely.
"It was never a question of if, but when, and how many times," Issa added. "And the same is still true: the threat is continuing to grow."
Democratic Congressman Scott Peters called Thursday's news "devastating" and the deaths of the service members "senseless," adding that "we cannot allow this to de-rail our mission" and emphasizing that, "it is imperative to get all Americans and vulnerable Afghans out as carefully and quickly as possible."
That was a sentiment echoed by Democratic Congresswoman Sara Jacobs, who said that in response to this loss of life "the answer can not be more war and violence. The answer can not be launching more ineffective and unaccountable counterterrorism operations. We must resist the urge to let our pain dictate our policy."
In a statement from the Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, General David Berger said:
"As we mourn, we also keep those who are still over there protecting Americans and our Afghan partners at the forefront of our thoughts," adding that "our Marines will continue the mission."
Here is the full statement from Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. David H. Berger:
“It is with extremely heavy hearts that we learned several Marines and other service members were killed and wounded in the Kabul attacks today. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families as they are notified of this devastating loss.
These fallen heroes answered the call to go into harm’s way to do the honorable work of helping others. We are proud of their service and deeply saddened by their loss. As we mourn, we also keep those who are still over there protecting Americans and our Afghan partners at the forefront of our thoughts. Our Marines will continue the mission, carrying on our Corps’ legacy of always standing ready to meet the challenges of every extraordinary task our Nation requires of her Marines.
I am continually humbled by the courage and warrior spirit exhibited every day by Marines across the globe. The sacrifices Marines make on behalf of freedom must never go unnoticed or unappreciated. I ask that you keep these Marines and service members, and especially their families, in your thoughts and prayers.”
Here is the full statement from Congresswoman Sara Jacobs:
“I am devastated by the loss of US servicemembers and innocent Afghan civilians in Kabul. My heart is with them and their loved ones. Representing a proud military community in San Diego, I know that the service and sacrifice of our servicemembers includes their entire family. Representing a proud refugee community in San Diego, I know there are hundreds of stories we will never know because of this attack. The loss of lives today -- those who were trying to escape and those working to protect them -- is a heartbreaking tragedy.
Like many Americans, I’m searching for answers and meaning amidst all of this tragic loss of life. But the answer cannot be more war and violence. The answer cannot be launching more ineffective and unaccountable counterterrorism operations. We must resist the urge to let our pain dictate our policy. If we don’t, we will have learned nothing from the last twenty years. We owe it to all those who lost their lives to not commit the same mistakes.
In the immediate term, we must continue our work to evacuate as many Americans and vulnerable Afghans as possible. I will continue to push for humanitarian parole for at-risk Afghans, increased support and assistance to Afghan refugees, and legal safeguards and funding for organizations that deliver life-saving humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan.
May the memory of those we lost be a blessing.”
Here is the full statement from Congressman Scott Peters:
“The news out of Kabul this morning was devastating. The loss of 12 U.S. servicemembers and the other senseless deaths are a horrible tragedy. The commitment, bravery and sacrifice of our servicemembers to evacuate thousands of Americans and allies in record time will not be forgotten. As I pray for the safety of our troops on the ground and the families of the fallen, my thoughts are also with dozens of innocent Afghan civilians who lost their lives and the countless others who were wounded.
“There is no question that today’s events have changed the lives of many, but we cannot allow this to derail our mission. It is imperative the U.S. continues our efforts to get all Americans and vulnerable Afghans out as carefully and quickly as possible.”
WATCH RELATED: San Diego combat veterans discuss the tragic situation in Kabul (August 2021)