KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — One year has passed since 13 U.S. service members and dozens of Afghans were killed by suicide bombers and gunmen at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan while evacuating amid the withdrawal of American troops.
East Tennessee native and Gibbs High School alum Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss was among the fallen. Knauss, 23, had been aiding people to escape the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan when the attack at the airport occurred. President Joe Biden spoke of vengeance in an impassioned speech following the announcement of the attack and loss of American and Afgan lives.
Biden and first lady Jill Biden later met with the families of the 13 U.S. troops killed in the suicide attack. An August 2021 Associated Press report states the dead ranged in age from 20 to 31, and came from California and Massachusetts and states in between – including East Tennessee.
A statement from the U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III in August 2021 offered his deepest condolences to the loved ones and teammates of those killed and wounded in the Kabul airport attack.
“Terrorists took their lives at the very moment these troops were trying to save the lives of others,” Austin’s statement read in part. Eleven of the 13 Americans killed were Marines. One was a Navy sailor and one an Army soldier – Knauss.
Knuass’ life and love for his country were celebrated during a public memorial at Gibbs High School a few weeks after his death, where he had attended before enlisting in the Army in 2016. During his military career, Knauss was a member of the Army’s 82nd Airborne division and a staff sergeant assigned to the 9th Battalion, 8th Psychological Operations Group. Knauss, along with the 12 other service members killed in the attack, were all posthumously awarded a Purple Heart.
Within the last year, several ceremonies and events have occurred honoring Knauss. Apart from the funeral processions for Knauss, there have been honor rides, a groundbreaking of a footbridge, posthumous awards and honors, a stretch of roadway named for him, his name etched into the East Tennessee Veterans Memorial, and most recently, an official portrait presented at Gibbs High School. Knauss was survived by his wife, parents and extended family.
Knauss was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery in September 2021.
A year later, Afghanistan remains under Taliban control. According to The Associated Press, Taliban leaders marked the one-year anniversary of the takeover on Aug. 15. The AP also reported that “the former insurgents struggle to govern and remain internationally isolated. The economic downturn has driven millions more Afghans into poverty and even hunger, as the flow of foreign aid slowed to a trickle.”
The latest news out of Afghanistan reports record flash flooding and the death of at least 182 people, with hundreds more injured during a month of heavy flooding from seasonal rains.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.