KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — President Joe Biden signed a bill into law on Thursday posthumously awarding Congressional Gold Medals, Congress’s highest honor, to East Tennessee’s Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss and 12 other U.S. service members killed by a suicide bombing during the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan in August.
SSG Ryan Knauss, Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Max Soviak, Marines Lance Cpl. Kareem Nikoui, Lance Cpl. David Espinoza, Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum, Lance Cpl. Jared Schmitz, Cpl. Daegan William-Tyeler Page, Sgt. Nicole Gee, Cpl. Humberto Sanchez, Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola, Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo, Cpl. Hunter Lopez and Staff Sgt. Taylor Hoover will all receive the posthumous honor.
Following the presentation by Congressional leaders, the medals will be given to the Smithsonian Institute to be made available for display outside Washington in locations associated with the 13 service members.
According to the U.S. Congress, since the American Revolution, Congress has commissioned gold medals as its highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions by individuals or institutions.
The 13 U.S. service members were also posthumously awarded a Purple Heart in September.
Knauss, 23, was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery on Sept. 21. He was honored by East Tennessee in a funeral procession that passed through the heart of Knoxville before his interment.
Knauss was a member of the Army’s 82nd Airborne division and a staff sergeant assigned to the 9th Battalion, 8th Psychological Operations Group.
He was born in Corryton, Tennessee and graduated from Gibbs High School in 2016. Knuass’ life and love for his country were celebrated during a public memorial at Gibbs High School football stadium.