Ryan Knauss, an East Tennessean and graduate of Gibbs High School, was one of the 13 American service members that were killed in a deadly terrorist attack in Kabul, Afghanistan on Thursday.
Knauss was the only member of the U.S. Army who died in the terrorist attack, according to a statement released by the Pentagaon. One other victim served in the U.S. Navy, while eleven victims were U.S. Marines.
According to the stepmother of Knauss, he enrolled in the military shortly after graduation, finished Psychological Operations training, and was hoping to serve in Washington, D.C.
Knauss was one of thousands of U.S. troops who were working around the clock to evacuate U.S. citizens and Afghan allies from the territory controlled by the Taliban.
A host of Tennessee lawmakers issued their condolences to the family of the fallen soldier and praised Knauss for his bravery:
“On behalf of all Tennesseans, Chrissy and I extend our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Ryan Knauss. The Bible teaches us that ‘greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.’ That’s what Ryan and 12 fellow service members did yesterday. 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,” said Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN) in an emailed 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,” continued Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN).
“A true embodiment of the Volunteer State, Ryan Knauss paid the ultimate price to help complete strangers escape Kabul. Ryan is the definition of an American hero. May God bless his family and friends,” added Representative Mark Green, (R-TN-7).
A true embodiment of the Volunteer State, Ryan Knauss paid the ultimate price to help complete strangers escape Kabul. Ryan is the definition of an American hero. May God bless his family and friends. https://t.co/Dcj6ynf8me
— Rep. Mark Green (@RepMarkGreen) August 27, 2021
According to his family, the 23 year-old had wanted to serve in the Armed Forces ever since he was a child.
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Editors note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to Knauss as a Marine.