U.S. Marine Corps. Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo was one of 13 service members killed at an airport in Kabul in August.
U.S. Marine Corps. Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo, a Lawrence native, is among 13 fallen U.S. service members posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal after President Joe Biden signed bipartisan legislation for the designation on Thursday.
“Sergeant Johanny Rosario Pichardo is a hero to her family, her friends, her community, and her country,” Congresswoman Lori Trahan said in a statement. “Not a day goes by that her absence isn’t felt by those who had the honor of knowing her and many more who didn’t but remain deeply grateful for the sacrifices she made.”
Rosario Pichardo, 25, and a dozen other service members were killed by an ISIS-Ok affiliated suicide bomber on Aug. 26 at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul as they assisted in evacuating people amid the Taliban seizing power in Afghanistan.
The attack made for the “deadliest single day” of the war for the United States in over a decade, according to the legislation. In total, as many as 200 people were reported killed in the explosion.
The other service members who lost their lives that day and who will now be honored are Maxton Soviak, Kareem Nikoui, David Espinoza, Rylee McCollum, Jared Schmitz, Hunter Lopez, Taylor Hoover, Daegan William-Tyeler Page, Nicole Gee, Humberto Sanchez, Dylan Merola, and Ryan Knauss.
“The American servicemembers went above and beyond the call of duty to protect citizens of the United States and our allies to ensure they are brought to safety in an extremely dangerous situation,” the bill states.
Lawmakers also said the military members killed “exemplified extreme braery and valor against armed enemy combatants.”
“These heroes lost their lives while serving our country and we will never forget their sacrifice,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who co-sponsored the measure in the Senate, wrote on Twitter.
According to the Senate, the gold medals are Congress’s “highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions by individuals or institutions” and date back to the American Revolution.
“The awarding of the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest award that Congress can bestow, is the least we can do to honor all Sergeant Rosario Pichardo did to save the lives of countless Americans and Afghan allies,” Trahan said. “It will serve as a reminder of the life of service she lived and the obligation each of us shares to carry on her legacy each day.”
“I’m grateful to my colleagues on both sides of the aisle who were instrumental in passing this legislation and to President Biden for signing it into law. Sergeant Rosario Pichardo’s sacrifice will never — and must never — be forgotten,” Trahan added.
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