Auburn Football Honored 13 Military Members Killed in Afghanistan With Moving Tribute on Opening Weekend

by Josh Lanier

The deaths of 13 U.S. Marines in Afghanistan last month galvanized support for the military across the country. Thousands of people from every walk of life have offered up money, their time, and aid to remember the men and women killed in two suicide blasts at the Kabul Airport. Auburn football is just the latest major sports team to honor the deceased.

The Tigers left 13 seats empty at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday. The school adorned the chairs with a military cap and photos of the murdered Marines. Auburn punctuated this memorial with a 60-10 win over Akron to kick off the team’s season.

The school’s athletic leaders said the team felt compelled to draw attention to the final American deaths in the Afghanistan War.

“These men and women sacrificed so much for our country,” Auburn assistant athletic director Dan Heck told Fox & Friends. “We thought this is the least that we could do to sacrifice and honor those men and women who did so much for our country.”

Auburn is doing more than paying lip service to American veterans, however. The university also has several programs meant to reach out to soldiers and raise awareness of their issues.

“We call it the Auburn family, and the Auburn family really has always come together to support our troops and our military,” Heck continued.

Auburn Not the Only Team to Honor Fallen Marines

Several other teams have also set aside seats as a way to honor the 11 men and 2 women killed in the attacks. The Texas Rangers roped off an entire section last week and draped 13 flags over seats. The team had a moment of silence before the playing of the national anthem as well.

ISIS-K suicide bombers rocked the Kabul Airport on Aug. 26 with two suicide bombs on Aug. 26. American forces were trying to evacuate U.S. troops and aid workers along with several Afghan citizens. After the blasts, gunmen opened up on the airport. Nearly 200 Afghans died in the attack as well, Reuters said.

Others are also trying to make sure those Marines aren’t forgotten. Some are offering small tokens of appreciation. A bar patron at the Redneck Riveria left a $13 tip with a note honoring the American dead. John Rich, of Big and Rich, owns that Nashville bar and shared a photo of the receipt. Texas Roadhouse set aside tables at restaurants across the country with 13 beers on them for the Marines that died.

Others are going above and beyond to help.

The Tunnels to Towers Foundation is offering mortgage-free homes to the families of the dead Marines. That includes Jiennah McCollum, the pregnant wife of Rylee McCollum, who died in the attacks. He was only 20 years old.

“We’re building mortgage-free homes for Gold Star Families, and that includes any of the 13 that left behind a young family,” Foundation CEO Frank Siller told Breitbart recently. “And we do know one of them. His wife is pregnant and will be giving birth shortly.

A GoFundMe page also raised more than $650,000 for Jiennah McCollum. The campaign’s original goal was $5,000.