Rylee McCollum’s family in Wyoming wasn’t surprised in the least when he enlisted in the Marines after high school.
“He wanted to be a Marine his whole life and carried around his rifle in his diapers and cowboy boots,” his sister, Roice McCollum, said in a statement.
“He was determined to be in infantry and this was his first deployment.”
Her 20-year-old brother was among 13 US service members killed Thursday in a suicide bombing during the evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. At least 20 US Marines were wounded, and more than 170 other people were killed.
McCollum, a lance corporal, had just been sent to Afghanistan to assist in the evacuation and was manning the checkpoint when the explosion occurred, she said.
“Rylee was an amazing, man with a passion for the Marines. He was a son, a brother, a husband and a father with a baby due in just 3 weeks,” his sister said.
She said the family expected to receive McCollum’s remains Monday, and funeral plans would follow, the Jackson Hole News & Guide reported.
Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon ordered all state and US flags lowered to half-staff through Monday to honour McCollum and the other fallen service members.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Rylee McCollum of Bondurant,” the governor said on Twitter. “Jennie and I, along with all of Wyoming and the entire country thank Rylee for his service.”