RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN/AP) — A Marine based at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina who cradled a baby in her arms at the airport and posted on social media that she loved her job was among 13 U.S. troops killed in a horrific suicide bombing at Afghanistan’s Kabul airport Thursday.
Heart-wrenching details have emerged about some of the U.S. service members who died in the attack, which also claimed the lives of more than 160 Afghans.
A week before she was killed, Sgt. Nicole Gee cradled a baby in her arms at the Kabul airport. She posted the photo on Instagram and wrote, “I love my job.”
Gee, 23, was a maintenance technician with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit from Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. Another North Carolina-based soldier was also killed in the attack — U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss of Fort Bragg Special Forces.
Sgt. Mallory Harrison, who lived with Gee for three years and called her a “sister forever” and best friend, wrote about the magnitude of her loss.
“I can’t quite describe the feeling I get when I force myself to come back to reality & think about how I’m never going to see her again,” Harrison wrote on Facebook. “How her last breath was taken doing what she loved — helping people. … Then there was an explosion. And just like that, she’s gone.”
Gee’s Instagram page shows another photo of her in fatigues, holding a rifle next to a line of people walking into the belly of a large transport plane. She wrote: “escorting evacuees onto the bird.”
The social media account that includes many selfies after working out at the gym lists her location as California, North Carolina and “somewhere overseas.” The Pentagon listed Gee’s hometown as Sacramento, California.
Photos show her on a camel in Saudi Arabia, in a bikini on a Greek isle and holding a beer in Spain. One from this month in Kuwait shows her beaming with her meritorious promotion to sergeant.
Harrison said her generation of Marines hears war stories from veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, but they seem distant amid boring deployments until “the peaceful float you were on turns into … your friends never coming home.”
Gee’s car was still parked in a lot at Camp Lejeune and Harrison mused about all the Marines who walked past it while she was overseas.
“Some of them knew her. Some of them didn’t.” she said. “They all walked past it. The war stories, the losses, the flag-draped coffins, the KIA bracelets & the heartbreak. It’s not so distant anymore.”
Gee was assigned to Combat Logistics Battalion 24, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, II Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Lejeune.