Strangers donate $1 million to baby girl, widow of Marine killed in Kabul bombing

National News

Jenna Christie, 17, and Emma Stone, 17, friends of Marine Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum, show their support during his procession in Jackson, Wyo., on Friday, Sept. 10, 2021. McCollum was one of the service members killed in Afghanistan after a suicide bomber attacked Hamid Karzai International Airport on Aug. 26. (AP Photo/Amber Baesler)

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — The widow of a U.S. Marine killed in a bombing in Afghanistan in August has given birth to a baby girl. A Facebook post by the baby’s grandmother says Levi Rylee Rose McCollum was born early Monday at Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, California.

Jiennah Crayton is the widow of 20-year-old Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum, of Bondurant, Wyoming. McCollum was among 13 U.S. soldiers killed in the suicide bombing on Aug. 26 at the Kabul airport. McCollum was on his first deployment.

Online fundraising efforts have raised about $1 million for the baby’s education and mother. The donations poured into two GoFundMe fundraisers, one titled “Rylee McCollum’s Child Education Fund” and the other titled “Love for Gigi.” (Gigi is a nickname for Jiennah, McCollum’s widow.)

The GoFundMe for Levi’s education, which has raised more than $678,000 alone, was started before she was even born. Her father was killed in Afghanistan while Crayton was 36 weeks pregnant.

“My beautiful daughter got that knock on her door that no military spouse wants to get,” wrote Jiennah Crayton’s mother, Jill Crayton, on the GoFundMe page. “Her strong, handsome, incredibly brave husband of less than a year was one of the 13 Marines that gave his life yesterday in Kabul. … I never got to meet him, but I will meet his baby, and I will love and spoil that baby forever.”

Rylee McCollum was one of 13 troops killed on Aug. 26 as they were helping to screen Afghans and others at the Abbey Gate of the Kabul airport. At least 169 Afghans were also killed in the bombing, as they struggled to get into the airport and on flights out of the country.

He was awarded a Purple Heart posthumously.

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