Camp Pendleton Marine from SoCal among those killed in Afghanistan

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SAN DIEGO — One of the service members killed in attacks at the Kabul airport in Afghanistan this week was identified Friday as a Southern California native and Camp Pendleton Marine.

Lance Cpl. Kareem Mae’Lee Grant Nikoui graduated from Norco High School in 2019 and served in Norco High School Air Force Junior ROTC. He is survived by his mother, father and siblings, the city said in a Facebook post.

Nikoui was among 13 U.S. service members killed in action as a suicide bomber and gunmen targeted crowds flocking to the Kabul airport to flee the Taliban regime. Well over 100 Afghans were also slain, the Associated Press reported.

The attacks blamed on Afghanistan’s offshoot of the Islamic State group — an enemy of both the Taliban and the U.S. — represent one of the deadliest days in the two-decade war, according to the AP.

Nikoui’s father, Steve Nikoui, said in an interview with the Daily Beast that his son loved serving his country and had “always wanted to be Marine.” He was stationed at Camp Pendleton in North County.

“He really loved that [Marine Corps] family,” the father said. “He was devoted—he was going to make a career out of this, and he wanted to go. No hesitation for him to be called to duty.”

Steve Nikoui also expressed anger at political decisions that have led to the turmoil in Afghanistan, saying, “Biden turned his back on him. That’s it.”

Cpl. Nikoui’s name will be enshrined on the Lest We Forget Wall at the George A. Ingalls Veterans Memorial Plaza, which honors people from Norco who have died while serving their country.

The U.S. Marine Corps has yet to formally release the names of the victims among their ranks, and it customarily wait until 24 hours after family members have been notified. The slain service members include 11 Marines, as well as two soldiers and one Navy hospital corpsman.

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