Only days before her death, Sgt. Nicole Gee was pictured cradling an Afghan baby at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. Gee was one of the 13 U.S. service members and 170 Afghans who were killed in the terrorist attack at the Kabul airport. Friends and fellow service members remember Nicole Gee, who was robbed of her life at the age of 23.
Gee, who was from Roseville, California, enlisted in the military in 2017. She served as a maintenance technician with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, based out of Camp Lejeune, California.
In early August from Kuwait, Gee gleefully announced that she had been promoted to sergeant before being deployed to Afghanistan.
On Aug. 21, Gee posted a photo of her holding a baby at the Kabul airport with the caption: "I love my job."
On Aug. 22, Gee posted a photo on Instagram of her escorting evacuees onto a plane.
On Aug. 24, the official Twitter account for the Department of Defense shared a photo of Gee escorting Afghan citizens onto a C-17 airplane.
On Aug. 26, Gee along with 10 other marines, one soldier, and one Navy corpsman were killed in a suicide bombing at the Hamid Karzai International Airport.
The Marines who died are Staff Sgt. Darin T. Hoover, 31, of Salt Lake City, Utah; Sgt. Johanny Rosariopichardo, 25, of Lawrence, Massachusetts; Cpl. Hunter Lopez, 22, of Indio, California; Cpl. Daegan W. Page, 23, of Omaha, Nebraska; Cpl. Humberto A. Sanchez, 22, of Logansport, Indiana; Lance Cpl. David L. Espinoza, 20, of Rio Bravo, Texas; Lance Cpl. Jared M. Schmitz, 20, of St. Charles, Missouri; Lance Cpl. Rylee J. McCollum, 20, of Jackson, Wyoming; Lance Cpl. Dylan R. Merola, 20, of Rancho Cucamonga, California; and Lance Cpl. Kareem M. Nikoui, 20, of Norco, California.
Navy Hospitalman Maxton W. Soviak, 22, of Berlin Heights, Ohio, and Army Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Knauss, 23, of Corryton, Tennessee, also died during the terror attack.
"We continue to mourn the loss of these Marines and pray for their families," Marine Corps spokesman Maj. James Stenger said in a statement on Friday. "Our focus now is taking care of the families of those who were killed and caring for our injured."
Brig. Gen. Forrest C. Poole III, commanding general of 2nd Marine Logistics Group, said, "Our unit mourns the immense loss of Sgt. Gee, our fallen service members, and the Afghan people who lost their lives in this attack. I express my deepest heartfelt condolences to Sgt. Gee's family, friends, and loved ones. We will continue to provide support to all those affected by this incident."
"She had a name. She was doing God's work…..a warrior," Capt. Karen Holliday said. "Searching Afghan women and children trying to get out of country."
Lance Cpl. Joyner Seaman, who trained with Gee in 2018, told The Daily Beast, "She was a badass. She would outrun and outperform most male Marines in the physical categories during our training. She was truly a badass individual—and more importantly, she was the nicest person. She was a Marine's Marine."
Joe Stowers, a fellow Marine, called Gee "the ultimate nurturer."
"She always came by and took care of us and never had an issue with anyone," Stowers said. "A gentle kind hardworking person down to the bone. One of a kind, and an outstanding Marine. Always worked hard and never complained."
Sgt. Mallory Harrison, who lived with Gee for three years and called her a "sister forever," wrote a heartfelt Facebook post about the tragic loss.
"We've been attached at the hip from the beginning," Harrison said in the touching tribute. "I can't quite describe the feeling I get when I force myself to come back to reality & think about how I'm never going to see her again."
"Her last breath was taken doing what she loved—helping people—at HKIA in Afghanistan," she said of her best friend. "Then there was an explosion. And just like that, she's gone."
"Nothing can prepare you. My best friend. 23 years old. Gone," the heartbreaking post read. "I find peace knowing that she left this world doing what she loved. She was a Marine's Marine. She cared about people. She loved fiercely. She was a light in this dark world."
"Til Valhalla, Sergeant Nicole Gee. I can't wait to see you & your Momma up there. I love you forever & ever," the homage ended.
Gee is survived by her husband, who is also in the Marine Corps.