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The city of Norco gathered Saturday evening to honor Marine Lance Cpl. Kareem Nikoui, one of 13 U.S. service members killed by a suicide bomb in late August.

Nikoui was helping to evacuate Americans and Afghans ahead of the full U.S. withdraw from the country, which is once again controlled by the Taliban.

Nikoui was born in 2001, the same year the U.S. began military operations in Afghanistan, and died days before the war ended. 

At just 20 years old, Nikoui never knew a world before the September 11 attacks and America’s subsequent war in Afghanistan.

“Marines have a bond. It never goes away. We feel for the families. It’s something deep. A child can’t be replaced, especially if it’s your own,” said retired U.S. Marine Clay Creasy. 

Nikoui joined the marines right out of high school.

“He was in the ROTC and that’s what he wanted. He talked to his counselor…his dream was to be a Marine and he fulfilled that dream,” said Tigger Porter, a Norco resident. 

Porter’s son attended Norco High School with Nikoui.

“We are hurting. We are hurting as a whole. But I can’t even imagine what the mother in the family is going through right now. That’s something I can’t even begin to describe,” Porter said. “He gave his life. He gave his life for this country.”