Widow of Marine Rylee McCollum, Who Was Killed in Afghanistan Airport Attack, Gives Birth to Baby
Rylee McCollum, 20, was one of the 13 service members killed in the Afghanistan airport attack on Aug. 26, and his wife Jiennah just welcomed their baby daughter on Monday, Sept. 13
Rylee McCollum, one of 13 U.S. service members killed in the Aug. 26 Afghanistan airport attack, will have his name live on in his baby daughter, whom his widow Jiennah gave birth to Monday.
Newborn Levi Rylee Rose McCollum weighed 8 lbs., 10 oz., when she arrived at 2:18 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 13, in San Diego, the family announced on Facebook this week. McCollum's wife Jiennah wrote in one post alongside photos of their baby, "Welcome to the world my sweet baby. i love you with my whole heart."
Her mother, Jill Miller Crayton, also helped share the happy news, writing on Facebook, "I would like to introduce my sweet sweet granddaughter, Levi Rylee Rose McCollum. She came roaring into this world and graced us all with her presence at 2:18 am this morning an un medicated, lightning quick delivery. She can already do no wrong ever in my eyes."
"Having almost been born in Nevada, I am so glad she wasn't. I flew into San Diego yesterday thinking I would have 'mother daughter bonding time' with Gigi before she became one herself, this sweet thang had a different plan," the new grandmother continued. "I am fiercely happy and proud today."
McCollum, a 20-year-old lance corporal for the U.S. Marines, died along with more than 100 civilians during a suicide bombing and gun attack late last month, which occurred during evacuation efforts at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul.
Want to get the biggest stories from PEOPLE every weekday? Subscribe to our new podcast, PEOPLE Every Day, to get the essential celebrity, entertainment and human interest news stories Monday through Friday.
ISIS-K, a branch of the Islamic State opposed to the Taliban and the U.S., later claimed responsibility for the attack, according to CNN, which also reported that at least 20 Marines were wounded in the attack, and more than 170 people were killed.
In an emotional Facebook post one day after the attack, Jiennah mourned her husband while awaiting the arrival of their baby.
"I lost my best friend. and nothing will ever make that hurt less. he would've been the best dad," she wrote. "i wish he could see how much of an impact he made on this world. i'm so proud to call him my husband. but i just wanted to say thank you for all the love and support i've received today. times like this it's all i can ask for. much love to the other families affected by this. they are all heroes forever."
A GoFundMe created for McCollum's family and "dedicated to the education and upbringing" of his daughter has so far raised over $675,000 in donations, surpassing its initial goal of $5,000.
McCollum had been dreaming of joining the Marines since he was a 3-year-old growing up in Wyoming, his dad Jim recently told The New York Times: "He's the most patriotic kid you could find. Loved America, loved the military. Tough as nails with a heart of gold."
If you would like to support those in need during the upheaval in Afghanistan, consider:
- Donating to UNICEF to aid Afghans in the country or
- Donating to the International Refugee Assistance Project to help those fleeing.