13 service members killed last year in Kabul honored at VFW post

Marine David Espinoza, 20, was among 13 U.S. service members killed in the attack

Almost a year has passed since 13 service members were killed in an attack in Kabul, Afghanistan after President Biden ordered the removal of US troops. On Saturday, their lives were honored by family and VFW members. KSAT's Leigh Waldman tells their story.

SAN ANTONIO – Almost a year has passed since 13 service members were killed in an attack in Kabul, Afghanistan.

They died in an explosion during the United States’ withdrawal from the country.

On Saturday, their lives were honored and their sacrifice remembered.

“We die twice. Once, we’re buried with full military honors, a flag on our casket, three volleys and the song of taps,” Cris Vieyra, commander at VFW Post 8397, said. “The second time we die is when no one remembers our name.”

The names of the 11 Marines, one Soldier, and one Navy Corpsman killed last August in Kabul were remembered in a flag retirement ceremony at VFW Post 8397.

“There was one Marine from Texas -- David Espinoza. We were able to get ahold of the family,” Vieyra said.

David Espinoza was only 20 years old when he was killed. He was a lance corporal in the Marine Corps.

Espinoza’s mom and stepdad said their boy always knew what he wanted to do when he grew up.

“He wanted to join the Marines. He just loved helping people,” Elizabeth Holguin, David’s mom, said.

“In middle school, he wanted to join some sort of military,” Victor Dominguez, David’s stepfather, said. “And like my wife said, by his junior year, he was really into the Marines.”

Holguin was given one of the 13 stripes of the retired American flag with her son’s name on it to lay to rest.

“It’s just beautiful. I appreciate it. Like my husband said, it’s um, to remember them and not forget them for their sacrifice,” Holguin said.

They said this isn’t just about their son; it’s about the work of all service members who put their lives on the line for freedom.

“Not only our son, but the other 12 service members. It’s just an honor. It’s something that’s just beautiful,” Dominguez said.

Holguin was also given a gold star flag to remember her son’s sacrifice.

All 13 service members killed in Kabul were posthumously honored with the congressional gold medal.


About the Authors:

Leigh Waldman is a news reporter at KSAT 12. She joined the station in 2021. Leigh comes to San Antonio from the Midwest after spending time at a station in Omaha, NE. After two winters there, she knew it was time to come home to Texas. When Leigh is not at work, she enjoys eating, playing with her dogs and spending time with family.

Adam Barraza is a photojournalist at KSAT 12 and an El Paso native. He interned at KVIA, the local ABC affiliate, while still in high school. He then moved to San Antonio and, after earning a degree from San Antonio College and the University of the Incarnate Word, started working in news. He’s also a diehard Dodgers fan and an avid sneakerhead.