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Funeral honors Ohio sailor killed in suicide bomber attack

Navy Corpsman Maxton Soviak was remembered as an adventurer who threw himself into everything he did.
Maxton Soviak 09132021
The itinerary of events rests on a bench during the funeral of Navy Corpsman Maxton Soviak at Edison High School Stadium in Milan, Ohio, on Monday. Soviak was one of 13 U.S. troops killed in a suicide bombing at Afghanistan's Kabul airport on Aug. 26. (Tony Dejak | AP Photo)

BERLIN HEIGHTS, Ohio (AP) — The Ohio sailor killed in a suicide bomber attack during the recent evacuation mission in Afghanistan was laid to rest Monday in his hometown, remembered as an adventurer who threw himself into everything he did.

Only recently, Navy Corpsman Maxton Soviak learned jujutsu, officiated two weddings, learned to play the ukulele and swam with sharks in Florida, among many other activities, family members including his brothers and sisters remembered during a 90-minute memorial service on the field of Edison High School where Soviak played football.

A high school wrestler, Soviak had also started a wrestling program for kids in Guam during his military service. He loved to read and watch movies, and had recently reenlisted in the Navy, hoping to make being a noncombatant medic his career.

"So, for everyone who wants to honor Maxton’s memory — this is what I have to offer you," said his sister, Kathleen Soviak. “Go live. Fill the book of your life with stories. Push yourself to be something that scares you. Go bigger, go harder and most importantly of all, love fiercely.”

“Max got a lot done in a short life,” said Retired Navy Capt. Chaplain Roger Pace.

Maxton Soviak, 22, died along with 12 other U.S. service members in the bomb attack Aug. 26 at Afghanistan’s Kabul airport during the airlift in the conflict’s final days.

Crowds packed the bleachers at the high school for the outdoor funeral, whose attendants included Gov. Mike DeWine and First Lady Fran DeWine, and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted. The ceremony opened with a flyover by a C-130 transport plane from the Ohio Air National Guard's 164th Airlift Squadron based in Mansfield.

Only 635 chairs were placed on the field, to recognize that the village's population had just shrunk by one, said Berlin Heights Mayor Connie Ward.

Soviak had been christened a “Devil Doc” by the Marines he served with, the nickname earned by Navy Corpsmen for offering medical care to Marines during combat.

Some of Soviak's last moments were spent shepherding young Afghan siblings who had become separated from their parents to a hospital for treatment, according to a letter read by Soviak's brother-in-law from the master sergeant leading the 83rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron, which served alongside Soviak in Afghanistan on the day he died. A large screen displayed a photo of Soviak in the back of a vehicle with the children.

Soviak was posthumously promoted to the rank of hospital corpsman third class, and was awarded a Purple Heart and the Fleet Marine Force Corpsman warfare badge. He was assigned to the 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division.