A newlywed Marine Rylee McCollum, expecting a baby, was among 13 U.S. service members killed in Kabul
Heart wrenching details began emerging Friday about some of the 13 U.S. troops killed in a suicide bombing at Afghanistan’s Kabul airport, which also claimed the lives of more than 160 Afghans. Eleven Marines, one Navy sailor and one Army soldier were among the dead, while 18 other U.S. service members were wounded in Thursday’s bombing.
Rylee McCollum, a Lance Corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps. and native of Bondurant, Wyoming, was married and his wife is expecting a baby in three weeks, his sister, Cheyenne McCollum, said.
“He was so excited to be a dad, and he was going to be a great dad,” McCollum said. She said her brother “was a Marine before he knew he was allowed to be a Marine … He’d carry around his toy rifle and wear his sister’s pink princess snow boots and he’d either be hunting or he was a Marine. Sometimes it would be with nothing on underneath, just a T-shirt.”
Then, two weeks ago, 20-year-old Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum was transferred to Afghanistan, McCollum’s sister, Roice McCollum, said in an interview.
McCollum was working the security perimeter at the Abbey Gate of Hamid Karzai International Airport when a suicide bomber detonated an explosives belt, killing at least 170 people in addition to the 13 U.S. service members. The death toll is expected to rise.
Colorado Congresswoman Lauren Boebert shared a letter to Rylee’s mother, Kathy, who lives in Montrose, expressing her condolences.
“Kathy, on behalf of a grateful nation, we mourn with you for the loss of your son,” the post stated in part.
Rylee McCollum, just a baby on 9/11, grew up in Jackson, Wyo., and wanted to join the armed forces since he was as young as 2, his sister said.
“He signed up the day he turned 18,” Roice McCollum said. “That was his plan his whole life.”
Their father, James McCollum, also had hoped to join the military, Roice McCollum said, but medical issues prevented that career. Her father, she said, “always passed that passion on, and Rylee just loved it. He wanted to be so patriotic.”