‘Heaven Is Getting A Good Warrior’: Hundreds Of California Hikers Honor Fallen Marine

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Jack O'Brien Contributor
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Hikers in Norco, California, organized a moving tribute Sunday to honor one of the 13 U.S. service members killed in the Aug. 26 airport bombing in Kabul, according to the Pasadena Star-News.

20-year-old Marine Lance Cpl. Kareem Nikoui was killed while stationed in Kabul at the time of the attack. His friend and former drill instructor, Ashley Lopez, organized a hike for close friends to honor the fallen Marine’s life and sacrifice, the Pasadena Star-News reported. However, hundreds of local residents ended up joining the group on the hike to Pumpkin Rock in Norco, and Lopez told the outlet that “there was a line of traffic” for the hike Sunday morning.

After Lopez posted her invitation to Facebook, it was quickly circulated by Staff Sgt. David Spratley, who was one of Nikoui’s mentors, Pasadena Star-News reported. “You weren’t going to stop him from trying to go back and rescue some more people. But he went out doing what he loved to do — and that’s saving people,” Spratley said of Nikoui, according to Pasadena Star-News “Heaven is getting a good warrior.”

Nikoui made a lasting impact on the community he left behind. “I didn’t personally know Kareem but he’s affected a lot of us,” Kaitlin Austin, a Norco High JROTC cadet, reportedly said. Gabrielle Murrary, another JROTC cadet added, “he was a leader … whether you knew him or not, just hearing stories about how he would tell jokes if people were upset and how he always tried to help out those in need since he joined JROTC, was inspiring.”

The tribute observed Sunday also prompted the Mayor of Norco, Kevin Bash, to share his thoughts on Nikoui’s life, according to the Pasadena Star-News. Bash said that Nikoui ran into the airport to get more children to safety when the bomb was detonated, the outlet reported.

The Aug. 26 attack on the Kabul Airport killed nearly 200 people, 13 of which were American service members. The bombing was reported to be the result of a single suicide bomber, and the Islamic State claimed responsibility shortly after it was carried out. (RELATED: These Are The US Service Members Who Made The Ultimate Sacrifice In The Kabul Attack)

Nikoui’s mother, Shana Chappell, recently accused Facebook of removing her Instagram account following the death of her son. Chappell alleged that her account was banned due to previous posts she had made criticizing President Joe Biden and his leadership in the recent crisis in Afghanistan. However, a Facebook spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation that her account was “incorrectly deleted.”