Sens. Warren, Daines introduce bipartisan bill to honor 13 U.S. servicemembers killed in Afghanistan

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren with Sen. Steve Daines introduced a bill on Wednesday to honor 13 Americans killed late August in Afghanistan. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI

Sen. Elizabeth Warren with Sen. Steve Daines introduced a bill on Wednesday to honor 13 Americans killed late August in Afghanistan. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 165 (UPI) -- Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Steve Daines unveiled a bipartisan bill on Wednesday to award congressional gold medals to the 13 U.S. servicemembers who were killed in Afghanistan last month amid the U.S. military's evacuation and withdrawal from the Middle Eastern country.

The resolution is co-sponsored by more than 30 senators to posthumously award the medals to Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo, Sgt. Nicole L. Gee, Staff Sgt. Darin T. Hoover, Cpl. Hunter Lopez, Cpl. Daegan W. Page, Cpl. Humberto A. Sanchez, Lance Cpl. David L. Espinoza, Lance Cpl. Jared M. Schmitz, Lance Cpl. Rylee J. McCollum, Lance Cpl. Dylan R. Merola. Lance Cpl. Kareem M. Nikoui, Navy Corpsman Maxton W. Soviak and Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Knauss.

"Thirteen brave men and women gave the last full measure to protect Americans and Afghan allies at a critical moment in our nation's history -- they are American heroes," Daines, R-Mont., said in a statement. "As the U.S. concludes 20 years of combat in Afghanistan, I believe it's fitting that Congress commemorates their sacrifice in this moment with the congressional gold medal."

The 11 Marines, one Army soldier and one Navy corpsman were killed on Aug. 26 when a terrorist attack was conducted near Kabul's Hamid Karzai International Airport where the U.S. military was evacuating Afghans and American citizens from the country, which had recently fallen under Taliban rule amid the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan.

More than 170 Afghans were also killed in the blast, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

According to the resolution proposed Wednesday, the attack was the deadliest single day of the war in more than a decade.

In retaliation, the United States days later conducted a drone strike in Nangarhar province, killing two high-profile Islamic State-Khorasan Province targets.

"The 13 service members that we lost were heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice in service of our highest American ideals and while saving the lives of others," President Joe Biden said in a written statement at the end of August. "May God protect our troops and all those standing watch in these dangerous days."

The servicemembers were in Afghanistan to aid the U.S. evacuation effort, which was completed at the end of August having airlifted some 6,000 Americans citizens and 124,000 Afghans from the country.

Once the gold medals have been awarded, the resolution calls for them to be given to the Smithsonian Institution where they will be displayed and made available for research.

According to the U.S. House of Representatives, Congress has commissioned gold medals since the American Revolution as "its highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions."

Former presidents including George Washington and Harry S. Truman have received the award as have Gen. Colin Powell, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, actor and singer Frank Sinatra and golfer Jack Nicklaus.

Rep. Lisa McClain, R-Mich., has introduced a companion bill into the U.S. House of Representatives.

"These individuals demonstrated incredible courage throughout their careers, and we own it to them to pass legislation to recognized their heroic service with the congressional gold medal," Warren, D-Mass., said in a statement.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III (L) and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark A. Milley deliver remarks about the end of the 20-year military mission in Afghanistan at the Pentagon, in Arlington, Va., on September 1. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

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