Rylee McCollum, a Marine and native of Wyoming, was announced as one of the 13 U.S. service members killed in Thursday's attack in Afghanistan.
McCollum's wife is expecting a baby in three weeks, his sister, Cheyenne McCollum, said.
"He was so excited to be a dad, and he was going to be a great dad," McColllum said. She said her brother "was a Marine before he knew he was allowed to be a Marine ... He'd carry around his toy rifle and wear his sister's pink princess snow boots and he'd either be hunting or he was a Marine. Sometimes it would be with nothing on underneath, just a T-shirt."
McColllum said her brother wanted to be a history teacher and a wrestling coach once he completed his service. Another sister, Roice McColllum, told the Casper Star Tribune that her brother was on his first deployment when the evacuation in Afghanistan began.
"We want to make sure that people know that these are the kids that are sacrificing themselves, and he's got a family who loves him and a wife who loves him and a baby that he'll never get to meet," Cheyenne McCollum said.
Regi Stone, the father of one of Rylee McCollum's friends, described him as "a good kid," who was resilient, smart and courageous. Stone shared a note that his wife, Kim, sent to their son Eli Stone, who is also in the military and deployed elsewhere. In the note, Kim wrote that she remembered telling the friends to run the other way if they had to go in first and that both of them said, "If we die doing this, we die doing what we love."
The Sublette County Sheriff's Office responded to the tragic news with a statement on Facebook, saying:
"Yesterday, we learned that one of our local marines, Rylee McCollum of Bondurant was killed in the deadly attack in Afghanistan. The Sublette County Sheriffs Office wishes to extend our deepest condolences to all those effected by the soldiers and civilians killed yesterday. During this difficult time we also extend our combined sadness for the unnecessary loss to the friends and family of Marine McCollum, he truely was a hero. We are deeply devastated to learn that among the victims was one of Sublette Counties very own. Thank you Marine McCollum for your service and sacrifice it will not be forgotten and neither will you. Rest In Peace Marine McCollum from a grateful nation."