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Father of Marine seen cradling Afghan toddler reacts to daughter’s demise after Kabul blast: ‘Simply my child’

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The grieving father of a U.S. Marine killed in a suicide assault on the Hamid Karzai Worldwide Airport in Kabul simply days after she shared the now iconic photograph of her cradling an Afghan child described his daughter in a heartbreaking new interview as his “hero” and a real “warrior.” 

“She’s a hero. She’s a warrior,” Marine Sgt. Nicole Gee’s father, Richard Herrera, instructed NBC’s “TODAY” in a current interview from his dwelling in Roseville, Calif. On Aug. 20, Gee had shared a photograph to Instagram of her cradling an Afghan child on the airport in Kabul, captioning the picture, “I like my job.” 

Crammed with satisfaction, Herrera rapidly shared the photograph with family and friends. Six days later, Gee was one of many 13 service members killed on Aug. 26 when a bomb went off exterior Abbey Gate. Requested by NBC’s Erin McLaughlin what he sees in that photograph now, Herrera answered “Simply my child. My child.” 

“It broke me for some time,” Herrera mentioned of his daughter’s demise. “It hit me exhausting.”  


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Gee, 23, of Sacramento, California, was a upkeep technician with the twenty fourth Marine Expeditionary Unit from Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. Brig. Gen. Forrest C. Poole III, commanding basic of 2nd Marine Logistics Group, mentioned his unit mourned “the immense lack of Sgt. Gee,” and the others.

Sgt. Mallory Harrison, who lived with Gee for 3 years, wrote about how exhausting the demise hit her.

“I can’t fairly describe the sensation I get after I drive myself to return again to actuality & take into consideration how I’m by no means going to see her once more,” Harrison wrote on Fb. “How her final breath was taken doing what she cherished — serving to folks. … Then there was an explosion. And similar to that, she’s gone.”

On this Aug. 20, 2021, picture offered by the U.S. Marine Corps, Marines assigned to the twenty fourth Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), together with Sgt. Nicole Gee calms an toddler throughout an evacuation at Hamid Karzai Worldwide Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. Officers mentioned Aug. 28, that Gee of Sacramento, Calif., was one of many Marines killed in Thursday’s bombing on the airport. 
((Sgt. Isaiah Campbell/U.S. Marine Corps by way of AP))

Gee’s Instagram web page exhibits one other photograph of her in fatigues, holding a rifle subsequent to a line of individuals strolling into the stomach of a big transport aircraft. She wrote: “escorting evacuees onto the fowl.”

Images present her on a camel in Saudi Arabia, in a bikini on a Greek isle and holding a beer in Spain. One from this month in Kuwait exhibits her beaming along with her meritorious promotion to sergeant.

Harrison mentioned her technology of Marines hears conflict tales from veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, however “these tales to sound like one thing so distant—one thing that you simply really feel such as you’re by no means going to expertise because you joined the Marine Corps throughout peacetime.” 

“Then unhealthy folks do unhealthy issues, and impulsively, the peaceable float you have been on turns into you going to Afghanistan & for some, by no means coming again. It turns into your mates by no means coming dwelling.”

Gee’s automotive was nonetheless parked in loads at Camp Lejeune, and Harrison mused about all of the Marines who walked previous it whereas she was abroad.


“A few of them knew her. A few of them didn’t.” she mentioned. “All of them walked previous it. The conflict tales, the losses, the flag-draped coffins, the KIA bracelets & the heartbreak. It’s not so distant anymore.”

Eleven Marines, one Navy sailor and one Military soldier have been among the many {dead}, whereas 18 different U.S. service members have been wounded within the bombing, which was blamed on Afghanistan’s offshoot of the Islamic State group. The U.S. mentioned it was probably the most deadly day for American forces in Afghanistan since 2011.

The suicide assault additionally claimed the lives of greater than 160 Afghans.

The Related Press contributed to this report. 

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