ALISO VIEJO, Calif. (KABC) -- A Marine who lived in Aliso Viejo has been identified as one of the 13 U.S. service members killed in a suicide bombing at Afghanistan's Kabul airport, which also claimed the lives of more than 160 Afghans.
Staff Sgt. Darin Taylor Hoover, who was originally from Utah, had served in the Marines for 11 years and is remembered as a hero, his father, Darin Hoover, said.
"He gave his life protecting those that can't protect themselves, doing what he loved serving his country," said Darin Hoover, who lives in a Salt Lake City suburb.
A GoFundMe page was created in Taylor Hoover's honor.
On Thursday, he "and some of his younger Marines were on security at the Abbey Gate of the airport when they were engaged by enemy combatants," according to a statement on the fundraiser page. "Taylor was running from position to position locking on his Marines to the enemy when the suicide bomber initiated the explosion at the gate."
Hoover - who went by the first name Taylor - lived in Orange County with his girlfriend, Nicole Weiss.
"His life revolved around his family, the Marine Corps, and the men he served," Weiss said in a statement. "It has been my honor and privilege to have stood by his side and to have had the opportunity to love him and live a beautiful life together. I know in my heart that Taylor would want us all to be celebrating his life and coming together -- not in mourning."
Darin Hoover said he had heard from Marines who said they were grateful they had his son as their sergeant.
"They look back on him and say that they've learned so much from him," Hoover said. "One heck of a leader."
Hoover said his son was also a best friend to his two sisters and loved all his extended family. He was the kind of guy who "lit up a room" when he came in, his father said.
Nate Thompson of Murray, Utah, first met Hoover when they were 10 years old in youth football. They stayed friends through high school, where Hoover played lineman. He was undersized for the position, but his heart and hard work more than made up for what he lacked in stature, Thompson said. As a friend, he was selfless and kind.
"If we had trouble with grades, trouble with family or trouble on the field, we always called Taylor. He's always levelheaded, even if he's struggling himself," he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.