"I took a moment and just started to cry."
Navy Corpsman Dabvis Sutton and retired Master Chief Sergio Jardon are thinking of their close friend Navy Hospitalman Maxton W. Soviak and his family.
Soviak was among the 13 U.S. service members killed in the attack that claimed more than 160 lives. Soviak was assigned to 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division in Camp Pendleton.
Two suicide bombers and gunmen attacked crowds of Afghans flocking to Kabul's airport Thursday, transforming a scene of desperation into one of horror in the waning days of airlift for those fleeing the Taliban takeover.
The service members were screening Afghans desperate to fly out of the country.
"I hope and wish for God to grant them the time to heal and the strength to get through the process," Jardon said.
Both men served with Soviak in 2018 at his first duty station. They worked in the immunization department at Naval Hospital Guam.
"He's a hero, he made that sacrifice, the ultimate sacrifice. I just hope he was happy wasn't in any distress," Sutton said.
The Soviak family issued the following statement:
On behalf of the entire Soviak family, we want to thank all those who have extended their support and prayers on the loss of our son, Max.
Max was a wonderful son who loved his family, his community, and was proud to serve in the U.S. Navy.
He was excited about the opportunities the Navy would offer him and planned to make the Navy a career. We are incredibly proud of his service to our country.
As we mourn the loss of our son, we also mourn for the loss of the Marines and Soldier who were killed and pray for the speedy recovery of all of those wounded in Afghanistan.
Words cannot express how heartbroken we are with this news and we will miss Max tremendously. As you can imagine, this is a very difficult time for our family and we respectfully request that you honor our privacy.
Max was raised near Sandusky, Ohio. He was an Edison High School grad. He played football.
"His energy stood out on its own. His energy was unmatched. He lit up the room," Sutton said.
Sergio and Dabvis are proud of Soviak's commitment and desire, but miss him like a brother. Soviak's life made a lasting impression and gives courage to fellow corpsmen.
"He paid the ultimate sacrifice for the job he wanted to do, in the manner he wanted to do it," Jardon said.
"It made me realize why I do what I do. Just made me want to keep doing what I do,“ Sutton said.
At the Camp Pendleton entrance, you see a shrine of flowers, cards, and well wishes for those service members who died in the evacuation mission in Afghanistan.
People have been dropping by periodically. Many of them with no connection to the base or service members overseas, just compelled by the heroic efforts.