More than half a million dollars has been pledged to help the family Marine Rylee McCollum left behind when he was killed in Afghanistan last week.
McCollum, 20, was among the 13 U.S. service members slain in a suicide bombing at the Kabul airport on Thursday.
As news spread that McCollum had been killed, leaving behind a wife and an unborn child, two GoFundMe accounts were created.
Into the Breach Supply Co. of Los Angeles created the “Rylee McCollum’s Child Education Fund,” which had raised more than $425,000 as of early Monday afternoon.
The description reads: “This is a fund specifically dedicated to the education and upbringing of Marine Rylee McCollum’s child who is expected for September. His sacrifice at HKIA to protect the lives of those who cannot themselves will not be forgotten. Anything you can provide to aid them would be appreciated more than we can express. Bless.”
Jill Crayton, McCollum’s mother-in-law, created a second fund called “Love for Gigi” for his widow and child.
“My heart is incredibly heavy today, in the wee hours of the morning my beautiful daughter got that knock on her door that no military spouse wants to get. Her strong, handsome, incredibly brave husband of less than a year was one of the 13 Marines that gave his life yesterday in Kabul,” Crayton wrote.
“She’s 36 weeks pregnant and she lost her love. I never got to meet him, but I will meet his baby, and I will love and spoil that baby forever. please hold her in your heart and soul because she needs it, this mama knows exactly what that feels like,” she said.
It had raised more than $177,000.
This is Rylee McCollum. He died in Afghanistan yesterday. He recently got married and was only three weeks away from becoming a dad.
God bless his wife and baby. pic.twitter.com/BHr7wdynln
— Kassy Dillon (@KassyDillon) August 28, 2021
“He was a beautiful soul,” his father, Jim McCollum, said of Rylee, according to The New York Times.
McCollum said his son enlisted the day he turned 18.
“He wanted to get in there as quickly as he could,” he said.
“He’s the most patriotic kid you could find,” McCollum said. “Loved America, loved the military. Tough as nails with a heart of gold.”
Rylee McCollum, a Marine killed in Afghanistan, was expecting a baby in 3 weeks.
Breaks my heart & brings tears to my eyes. Rylee’s sweet baby will FOREVER know what a HERO his or her father is. Thank you, Rylee, for your sacrifice.
Pray for his family.https://t.co/67fWDi16y6
— Kayleigh McEnany (@kayleighmcenany) August 27, 2021
McCollum said losing his son in the wretched debacle that was the withdrawal from Afghanistan pained him.
“It kills me and pains me that we spent 20 years there, and all the lives that were lost there, including my son’s. And we’re back to square one,” he said.
But as for his son, “I couldn’t be more proud of him,” McCollum said. “He’s a hero.”
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