A U.S. Army staff sergeant from Tennessee on his second deployment to Afghanistan was killed Thursday in a suicide bombing near Kabul's Hamid Karzai International Airport, his family announced Friday..
Ryan Knauss was among 13 American service members who died in the attack blamed on the terrorist group ISIS-K, an offshoot of ISIS based in Afghanistan. Initial reports said the slain Americans were all Marines with the exception of a Navy corpsman, making the news of his death "quite a shock" to his family, his grandmother Evelena Knauss told The Daily Beast.
“We were led to think that it was 12 Marines and one Navy, and we knew our grandson was in the Army," Knauss said. "So we were praying for the families of the Marines, not knowing our grandson was one of the ones who lost his life... You just don’t think it will be yours.”
Knauss, 23, had already served a nine-month deployment in Afghanistan. He grew up in Tennessee and joined the Army out of high school.
They made the 'ultimate sacrifice':The US service members killed in Afghanistan airport bombing
In a statement, U.S. Sen. Bill Hagerty of Tennessee lauded Knauss: "Ryan will be remembered as a brave, honorable, and heroic man – a Tennessee volunteer – who, with a servant’s heart, gave everything of himself at just 23 years old for his state and the country that he loved dearly."
Knauss was a graduate of Gibbs High School in Corryton, near Knoxville.
U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee said in a statement, "Ryan embodies American heroism – saving people he had never met before, in the face of persistent evil. We will never forget his sacrifice in service to his country.
About 169 Afghan people died, officials told the Associated Press. CBS News was reporting that number at 170.
President Joe Biden commended the "bravery and sacrifice" of the U.S military Friday, calling the deaths of the U.S. service members "tragic" and saying they died for a "worthy mission."