Dominican-American Marine Sergeant Johanny Rosario Pichardo Among Those Killed in Kabul Suicide Bombing
The 25-year-old Sergeant was a member of the 5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, Naval Support Activity Bahrain, and the brigade's Female Engagement Team (FET).
Marine Corps Sergeant Johanny Rosario Pichardo was screening women and children at the Abbey gate entrance in Kabul Airport in Afghanistan when a suicide bombing attack took her life and that of 13 other U.S. service members last Thursday.
Pichardo was a Dominican-American from Lawrence, Massachusetts, who was beloved by her community. She graduated from Lawrence High School and was a former Bridgewater State University student. Her mother and sister survive her.
The U.S. Defense Department reports she was assigned to the 5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, Naval Support Activity Bahrain.
"We are heartbroken by the death of the servicemen and women due to the bombing in Kabul this week. I, and the City of Lawrence, are particularly saddened that one of those brave souls was a daughter of our city," Lawrence Mayor Kendrys Vasquez said in a statement. "At this time, the family's most immediate wish is to be given privacy and that their loved one be recognized as the hero that she was," he added.
The 25-year-old Sergeant was a member of the brigade's Female Engagement Team (FET). Lieutenant Coppola told CBS News they are a "volunteer team of female Marines with the experience and maturity necessary to enable continuity of operations while respecting cultural norms."
According to Coppola, Pichardo's service in Kabul was "not only crucial to evacuating thousands of women and children but epitomizes what it means to be a Marine: putting herself in danger for the protection of American values; so that others might enjoy them."
The deadly blasts, which injured 18 U.S. service members and hundreds of Afghans, came as the United States and other Western countries completed the massive evacuation of troops and citizens after the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, which has left an uncertain future for women and girls in the country.
President Joe Biden condemned the attacks, warning the perpetrators from the White House, "We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay."
Meanwhile, the families and communities whose loved ones won't be returning home continue to mourn their losses. On Saturday, dozens attended a vigil in Rosario's memory in Boston hosted by Massachusetts Fallen Heroes; a wreath commemorated her alongside 13 roses and candles honoring the other service members.
"We express our deepest condolences to the family members and loved ones of the young Dominican woman, Johanny Rosario Pichardo," the Dominican Embassy in the U.S. tweeted on August 28.
Massachusetts senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey also tweeted in memory of Pichardo.
"I am deeply saddened by the news that Johanny Rosariopichardo of Lawrence was killed in action in Afghanistan. My condolences go out to her family, friends, and loved ones. The people of Massachusetts and the entire nation always will remember her brave service to our country," Markey said in his tweet. "There is no measure of thanks for Sgt. Rosariopichardo's ultimate sacrifice, so we must honor her heroism in service to the United States and all of those we lost in this attack. Our flags fly lower, our hearts hang heavy, and our gratitude runs eternal for Sgt. Rosariopichardo."
Warren said, "Sgt. Johnny Rosario is a hero. A daughter of Lawrence, her courage saved thousands of lives, and her selfless service represents the best of our country. My heart aches for her loved ones. We will not forget her sacrifice, and we will fulfill our sacred obligation to them forever."