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NORCO, Calif. – When Shana Chappell gave birth to Marine Lance Cpl. Kareem Nikoui on Jan. 4, 2001, little did she know that her newborn’s first months on this earth would be the only time that America was not at war during his lifetime. On Sept. 11, 2001, America suffered her most deadly attack since Pearl Harbor. President George W. Bush launched Operation Enduring Freedom and the war in Afghanistan officially began on Oct. 7, 2001. As Shana nursed her baby in the small horse town of Norco — some 60 miles east of Los Angeles — she had no way of knowing that her son, along with 12 other warriors, would lose his life 20 years later at the end of America’s brutal and tragically failed war in Afghanistan.
When the ISIS-K suicide bomber exploded feet away from the Abbey Gate at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul at 5:36 p.m. on Aug. 26, 2021, Kareem became the last of the 2,421 Americans to be killed in this war. Shana would be the first to argue that the death of her son mattered no more than any of the others, and