Two Wyoming officials have issued statements expressing their condolences to the family of Rylee McCollum, a U.S. Marine from Bondurant, Wyoming, who was killed during Thursday’s attack in Afghanistan.
“I’m devastated to learn Wyoming lost one of our own in yesterday’s terrorist attack in Kabul, Afghanistan,” Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon said in a Friday morning statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of U.S. Marine Rylee McCollum of Bondurant. Jennie and I, along with all of Wyoming and the entire nation, thank Rylee for his service.”
Gordon has ordered that both the U.S. and the State of Wyoming flags should remain at half-staff through Monday, Aug. 30, in honor and memory of McCollum.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow also released a statement, adding that McCollum was a 2019 graduate from Jackson Hole High School.
“Saying that I am grateful for Rylee’s service to our country does not begin to encapsulate the grief and sadness I feel today as a mother and as an American,” Balow said. “My heart and prayers are with Rylee’s family, friends, and the entire Jackson community. We will find many ways to honor Rylee for this ultimate and untimely sacrifice in the coming months and years- but for now, my arms are wrapped around Rylee’s loved ones from afar and I pray they find some comfort.”
McCollum was one of 13 U.S. service members that were killed Thursday in a terrorist attack outside the Kabul airport, where bombings and gunfire also wounded 15 other service members, according to reporting by The Center Square.
Addressing the nation early Thursday evening, President Joe Biden praised the heroism of those killed in the attack.
“The lives we lost today were lives given in the service of liberty, in the service of security, in the service of others, and in the service of America,” Biden said, adding that the fallen were part of a great and noble company of American heroes in the fight against terrorism.
In the same address, the President vowed to hunt down the terrorists responsible for the attack, which is currently believed to be the Islamic State in Khorasan, or ISIS-K, according to the Center Square.
“To those who carried out this attack, as well anyone who wishes America harm, know this,” Biden said. “We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay. I’ll defend our interests and our people with every measure at my command.”
The President said that the U.S. withdrawal will continue and will not be deterred by acts of terrorism. He has ordered his military commanders to develop operational plans to strike ISIS-K assets, leadership, and facilities.
“We will respond with force and precision at our time, at the place we choose, and a moment of our choosing,” Biden said.
The attacks in Kabul reportedly came after in-country Americans were warned to not gather outside the airport by the U.S. embassy in light of recent efforts by the Taliban, an Islamic militant organization, to harass and attack any attempting to access the airport.
Much of Afghanistan was under Taliban control within days of Biden’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from the region, The Center Square reports, marking the end to a 20-year-old war that began with the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.