Ryan Knauss, Soldier Killed in Kabul, Wrote About Confronting Power to Help Others: Teacher

A former teacher of Staff Sergeant Ryan Knauss—one of the 13 soldiers killed in an attack by the Islamic State militant group's Khorasan branch (ISIS-K) in Kabul, Afghanistan last week—recounted an essay where he wrote about his desire to help people.

Angela Hoffman, who taught Knauss for one semester at Gibbs High School in 2012, said he wrote in an essay that, "for him, a role model is anyone who stands up against power to help others," she told WATE-TV, a Knoxville, Tennessee-based television news station.

"He wrote that nine years go as a 14-year-old boy not knowing the man that he was going to become, and that was just so powerful to find this in my handwritten notes from nine years ago—that he shared that, as a 14-year-old, as being something he wanted his teachers to know about him," she said.

Hoffman described Knauss as having a quiet but confident demeanor and that the letter left a lasting impression. He also wrote he dreamed of joining the military, which he would achieve several years later, WATE reported.

Military Dignified Transfer
A former teacher of Ryan Knauss, one of the 13 U.S. soldiers killed in an attack at the Kabul airport last week, recounted an essay he wrote about standing up to power to help others. Here, soldiers are seen transferring his remains at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. Jason Minto/U.S. Air Force via Getty Images

Knauss was 23 years old and leaves behind a wife. His grandfather, Wayne Knauss, described him as "a motivated young man who loved his country" while speaking with told WATE. His stepmother, Linnae Knauss, said he was looking forward to advancing his career upon returning to the United States, and that he was "a super-smart, hilarious young man."

"He grew up in a Christian home, attended Berean Christian school through eighth grade and spent, four years at Gibbs High," his grandfather said. "A motivated young man who loved his country. He was a believer so we will see him again in God's heaven."

He was one of 13 U.S. armed service members who were killed in the attack outside of the Kabul airport last Thursday. The attack also killed 169 Afghans.

The Biden administration authorized an airstrike that killed two ISIS-K members in retaliation. President Joe Biden said in a statement that it would not be the last form of retaliation, pledging the U.S. will "hunt down any person involved in that heinous attack and make them pay."

"Whenever anyone seeks to harm the United States or attack our troops, we will respond," the statement read. "That will never be in doubt."

Tributes have poured in for Knauss and other soldiers who were killed. The fallen soldiers came from all over the country and had an average age of just over 22 years old, Newsweek previously reported.

"Maria & I are heartbroken & mourning the loss of U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Ryan Knauss, a Tennessean who was killed in the tragic terrorist attack on Kabul," Tennessee Governor Bill Lee said in a tweet. "On behalf of all Tennesseans, we offer our full support in the difficult days ahead."