Dolly Parton Reaches Out to Families of Service Members Killed in Afghanistan in Touching Message

by Jennifer Shea
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Country superstar Dolly Parton had a heartfelt message for the friends and family of the 13 service members killed in a suicide bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan.

“My heart is with the family and friends of our nation’s lost servicemembers. May your memory be eternal,” she tweeted Monday.

Service Members Died While Aiding Evacuation Effort at Airport

America lost over a dozen service members last week. Eleven Marines, one Army soldier and one Navy medic died after a suicide bomber attacked the Abbey Gate at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Fox News reports. The attack was later claimed by ISIS-K, which stands for the Islamic State Khorasan Province, an offshoot of ISIS based out of Afghanistan.

Gunfire at the gate followed the blast from the suicide bomb. Another explosion also went off at the Baron Hotel nearby. Americans had previously gathered there to be rescued. All told, at least 60 people died and many more were injured. But Dolly Parton expressly mentioned those who died in the line of duty, trying to save others.

Among those killed was 23-year-old Sgt. Nicole Gee. Gee had shared a photo on social media a week earlier of herself holding an infant at the airport where she died. “I love my job,” Gee wrote.

Also killed was 20-year-old Rylee McCollum, who was expecting his first child. The Jackson Hole News & Guide reports that McCollum had wanted to be a Marine his whole life. He enlisted the day he turned 18.

Killed alongside them were Marine Lance Cpl. David Espinoza, Staff Sgt. Darin Hoover, Cpl. Hunter Lopez, Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola, Lance Cpl. Kareem Nikoui, Cpl. Daegan Page, Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo, Cpl. Humberto Sanchez, Lance Cpl. Jared Schmitz, Navy Hospital Corpsman Maxton Soviak and Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss, according to the Army Times.

Dolly Parton Supports the Military

Parton is a proud supporter of the U.S. military, and in recognition of that fact, her image adorns one of the aircraft of the 134th Air Fueling Wing of the Air National Guard based out of Knoxville, Tennessee.

As CBS reported in 2004, Parton’s face graces the nose of the air refueling aircraft, which bears the name “Miss Dolly.”

That honor has not been bestowed on a star since the 1940s, when actresses like Betty Grable appeared on the sides of planes. And now Dolly Parton has joined that pantheon.

“I felt like those gals in World War II and I thought, ‘This is something,’ and it was a great honor and I am truly very proud, proud of it,” Parton said.

The aircraft in question is a KC135 Strato Tanker air refueling aircraft. It travels the globe refueling Army aircraft carriers, bombers and support fighters, per CBS.

As for Parton, she was clearly tickled by the honor. She said she’d never received a tribute “this fun or big.”

“I am an all-American girl and I love America and just to be part of any of this is a great honor for me, so thanks again, all you guys. And I appreciate it,” she said.

Outsider.com