California Marine Nicole Gee, 23, who cradled baby at Kabul airport, killed in Afghanistan attack

Marine Sgt. Marine Sgt. Nicole Gee was just days away from experiencing the joy of service, as she was among 13 U.S. military personnel killed in Thursday's suicide attack at Kabul's Hamid Karzai International Airport.
Gee, 23 years old, posted an Instagram photo last week that showed her holding a baby in that airport. Gee added a simple but profound comment, "I love what I do." On Aug. 21, the Department of Defense posted the same photo.

Gee, a Californian, was a maintenance technician for the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. She described herself on her Instagram as an advocate for positive mental attitude and a "positive mental attitude." Her page lists California, North Carolina, and "somewhere else" as her locations.

Gee also posted an Instagram photo that shows her on duty earlier in the week with her rifle near a queue of people waiting for a transport plane. Her assignment was to "escort evacuees onto a bird."

Marine Sgt. Nicole Gee is seen holding a child at Kabul's Airport. She was one of 13 U.S. military personnel killed in the bombing in Afghanistan on Aug. 26.

Gee also recently posed for Instagram with friends in Spain where she shared a toast and Greece. Another photo shows Gee riding a camel through Saudi Arabia, and being promoted to sergeant.

She wrote about the promotion in a three-week-old post.

Roseville, California posted a Facebook message calling Gee "a hometown Hero". It said that Gee graduated from Oakmont High School in 2016. She enlisted in Marines one year later. Jarod Gee is also a graduate of Oakmont and a Marine.

Sgt. Mallory Harrison, a Marine friend who shared a room with Gee for over three years, posted a Facebook message with more than a dozen photographs and a link to the post.

"Her car is parked on our lot. Its so mundane. It's so simple. It's there," she said. "My best friend, my person and my sister forever. My other half. My other half and I were both Corporals, Sergeants, and Boots together. We have been roommates for more than 3 years, starting at the MOS school barracks to now in our home. Since the beginning, we have been close friends.

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"I cannot describe the feeling that I feel when I have to force myself to return to reality and think about how I will never see her again. It was the work she loved, helping Afghans at HKIA. There was an explosion. She was gone in a flash.

She stated that war stories from older Iraqi and Afghan veterans are not "distant" anymore.

Harrison said, sadly: "My best buddy. 23 years old. Gone. It brings me peace to know that she has left this world doing what her heart desired. She was a Marine Corps Marine. She was a person-centered woman. She loved with all her heart. She was a beacon of light in a dark world. She was my person. Til Valhalla, Sergeant Nicole Gee. I cannot wait to meet you and your Momma up there. I love you forever & ever."

Contributing: Associated Press

This article first appeared on USA TODAY: Marine Corps Sergeant. Nicole Gee, 23 years old, was killed in an attack on an airport in Afghanistan.