‘My Life Changed Forever’: Gold Star Dad Describes Waiting For Marines To Tell Him His Son Died In Kabul

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Virginia Kruta Associate Editor
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Gold Star father Steve Nikoui described the hours he spent waiting Thursday to hear whether his son was among those who were killed in the terror attack in Kabul.

Nikoui joined Fox News host and Daily Caller co-founder Tucker Carlson to discuss his son Marine Lance Corporal Kareem Nikoui’s service and sacrifice and the day he said his “life changed forever.” (RELATED: ‘Flying High And Proud’: Rick Perry Explains Why He’s Defying Biden Order To Lower Flag For Fallen Marines)


Carlson began the segment with a video of Kareem interacting with a young Afghan girl, asking if they were “friends” — and he noted that it might be the last video of Kareem in existence.

“Our hearts break for you. I’m sorry,” Carlson said. “It’s hard to know what to ask you other than to extend our sincere for-real heartfelt sympathies.”

Nikoui said that he had been awake for nearly 36 hours and was still in shock, adding that the family had initially been worried about Kareem but videos like the one Carlson had shown had begun to put them at ease.

“The videos that we were getting and the pictures that we were getting from him looked somewhat chaotic. We got the video that you had just played and we got other ones where he was really interacting with, you know, the locals,” Nikoui said, expressing pride and awe in the way his son had approached such a difficult and demanding job. “It put us at ease to where we felt like he’s all right.”

But then he went on to describe the hours leading up to the Marines arriving at his home to tell him that Kareem had been among those killed in an ISIS-K-claimed terror attack outside Kabul’s airport.

“So you know, basically what had happened was — how I found out is I was glued to the TV all day yesterday. Because, you know, I had woken up and I wasn’t feeling well. I felt like something was wrong. My wife felt there was something wrong. You know, as we go downstairs, we realize this had happened. Now, you know, we’re like, well, there’s some legitimacy to how we’re feeling,” Nikoui said.

“So we’re — I’m glued to the TV all day. I have my — and I see it says three wounded and three killed and ten killed, then 12, then 13. You know, so many Afghans. I’m trying to find out what time this actually took place so I can reference when he was working to get some sort of insight,” Nikoui continued, saying that he had hoped to get an update when President Joe Biden spoke as to whether or not all of the families had been notified. He was still holding out hope that his son was all right but had just been unable to contact him.

“Previously I had seen that, you know, the prior administration would normally contact people like first. Like the actual president of the United States. So I had some sort of sense like hey, okay, maybe that would happen. So then that’s not happening and things are still transpiring to be a little more grave. I start googling. How long does it take for the military to, you know, inform it’s next of kin?”

Nikoui said that the internet consensus seemed to be about eight hours, so he started to prepare for the worst. Wanting to intercept anyone who came to the door — so that he could be the one to inform his other family members in the event that something had happened to Kareem — he turned on multiple news stations and set up his phone to monitor activity outside his front door.

“So if anybody was to walk up, I could rush outside and intercept them. I didn’t want — if something happens to my son that these Marines — nothing against them — would tell my family. I felt like that was my responsibility. So I finally realized they’re not going to come at 3:00. They’re going to come between 5:00 and 10:00 when everybody is home from work. So then I realized, you know, 5:00 to 10:00. If I can make it from 5:00 to 10:00, even if I haven’t heard from him, I know he’s all right and he doesn’t have a way to contact me because they shut down internet or cell service or whatever,” Nikoui added.

The Marines arrived at 7:15, Nikoui said, and when he first saw them, he had hoped it was his other son and two friends returning early from a football game.

“As soon as I saw them turn the corner, saw it was three Marine suits, my life changed forever. I went down there and met them. And I think I did before they even knocked on the door,” Nikoui continued. “They were incredible. These young men were so — had so much empathy and were so concerned with me and my family who, luckily my family wasn’t there. It was me at the time. I thank God, you know, I thank Jesus that that happened, that I was able to intercept them. And all I kept telling them, they were there for like five minutes. I was like let’s sign whatever papers we have to sign now. But you have to leave because I have to take care of my family and I don’t want someone to come while you’re here. They were totally understandable. And then it dawned on me that yes, maybe I don’t need the condolences from them but I don’t want to — I don’t want to take that opportunity from my other family members. My wife, my son. So I asked them, look, they’re at a football game for the high school, watching a football game. Can you wait down the street until they come? I can see if they want you to come and do your condolences presentation. Those Marines, those boys sat out there for four hours. For four hours they sat out there until they came. Until my wife came, which she — it was not good. I could not have them come to the house. It was horrible. Like I said, I had been up 36 hours. I was in awe and — and just humbled by the — by their performance.”

RIP Kareem Nikoui. A grateful nation thanks you. Semper Fi.