OCEANSIDE, Calif. – Loved ones held a memorial hike this week in honor of Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Kareem M. Nikoui who was killed in a suicide bombing during evacuations in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Nikoui was one of 13 killed in the attack and was one of 10 with ties to Camp Pendleton in the northern portion of San Diego County. He served in the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment.
The 20 year old leaves behind his mother and father, siblings and friends who call him a “brave Marine.”
“He’s coming home, but not in the way I wanted him to come home,” friend Ashley Lopez said.
Speaking to FOX 5, Lopez — who went to Norco High School in Riverside County and served on the Air Force Junior ROTC with Nikoui — was fighting back tears in remembering her dear friend. She remarked that it is “reassuring that he definitely did go out how he wanted to, which was helping people.”
“He’s a brave Marine,” she said. “A very, very brave Marine. He loved what he did. Loved helping people. Loved serving his country. Loved putting on that uniform.”
Lopez said that Nikoui was helping to evacuate children from a building at the time the explosive went off.
With her trumpet in hand, she led the memorial hike Monday in his honor. She can’t believe she will never hike with him again.
“A lot has to do with anger because it shouldn’t have happened,” Lopez said. “Those 13…They shouldn’t be gone.”
Nikoui will be memorialized in Norco with his name soon to be enshrined at the George A. Ingalls Veterans Memorial Plaza, to honor a brave hero who made the ultimate sacrifice.
The city also plans to hold a remembrance ceremony Saturday in his honor.