Grand Marshal Ed Roach Jr., 95, waves Monday during the Memorial Day parade in Rumford. Roach is a former commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1641 in Rumford. Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times

RUMFORD — Thirteen U.S. servicemen and women who died during a suicide bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan last August were among those remembered at a Memorial Day service Monday.

“Memorial Day is about gratitude and remembrance,” retired U.S. Marine Jack Blanchard of Rumford told those assembled near the rotary on Route 2. “It is about honoring the men and women who made it possible for us to gather here today. Do not hesitate to thank a former or current member of the Armed Forces every day of the year,” the vice commander of Napoleon Ouellette American Legion Post 24 in Rumford said.

Speaking of the 13 who lost their lives at the Kabul airport Aug. 26, 2021, Blanchard said, “Their mission was noble: evacuate desperate civilians yearning to escape a brutal regime. … They will not be the last American heroes to make such a sacrifice. But they represent the best of a generation.”

He named them:

Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Darin T. Hoover, 31, of Salt Lake City, Utah

Marine Corps Sgt. Johanny Rosariopichardo, 25, of Lawrence, Massachusetts


Marine Corps Sgt. Nicole L. Gee, 23, of Sacramento, California

Marine Corps Cpl. Hunter Lopez, 22, of Indio, California

Marine Corps Cpl. Daegan W. Page, 23, of Omaha, Nebraska

Marine Corps Cpl. Humberto A. Sanchez, 22, of Logansport, Indiana

Marine Corps Lance Cpl. David L. Espinoza, 20, of Rio Bravo, Texas

Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jared M. Schmitz, 20, of St. Charles, Missouri


Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Rylee J. McCollum, 20, of Jackson, Wyoming

Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Dylan R. Merola, 20, of Rancho Cucamonga, California

Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Kareem M. Nikoui, 20, of Norco, California

Navy Hospitalman Maxton W. Soviak, 22, of Berlin Heights, Ohio

Army Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Knauss, 23, of Corryton, Tennessee.

On Dec. 16, President Joe Biden signed into law a bill to award Congressional Gold Medals each of them.


Retired U.S. Marine Jack Blanchard of Rumford, vice commander of Napoleon Ouellette American Legion Post 24, in Rumford, addresses the crowd Monday during a Memorial Day service near the rotary on Route 2 in Rumford. “From the American Revolution to the global war on terrorism, more than one million American veterans have made the supreme sacrifice,” he said. Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times

“For those who knew them, they are forever young,” Blanchard said. “They came from every background, yet they share a common goal — to serve America and make life better for the others.”

Blanchard also honored “one of our own,” Army Pfc. Buddy McLain, 24, of Mexico, who died Nov. 29, 2010, during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

“From the American Revolution to the global war on terrorism, more than one million American veterans have made the supreme sacrifice,” he said. “They died so that we could continue to cherish the things they loved — God, country and family.

“That is why we’ve gathered here on Memorial Day, to honor the memory of our fallen warriors who have given everything for their country.”

Blanchard said nearly 7,000 American men and women have died while fighting a global war on terrorism. Many were parents.

“Their loss felt by the Gold Star families is forever,” he said. “There are many tangible things we can do to honor the service of our fallen heroes. First and foremost is to take care of their loved ones.”

Monday’s observance also included a parade through Rumford and Mexico, followed by refreshments at the American Legion Hall on Congress Street.

Members of the Apostolic Church of Mexico sing “God Bless America” on Monday during a Memorial Day parade along in Rumford and Mexico. Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times

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