Home » US Marine Sgt. Nicole M. Gee, killed in Afghanistan, ‘loved her job’

US Marine Sgt. Nicole M. Gee, killed in Afghanistan, ‘loved her job’

by John Jefferson
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This is part 2 of Fox News Digital’s Freedom Isn’t Free series honoring America’s fallen heroes.

Gold Star aunt Cheryl Juels honors her niece’s ultimate sacrifice to her country through a new foundation with a mission of “tribute to the courageous and selfless sacrifice made by Nicole Gee, a beloved U.S. Marine who loved her job and gave her life in service to our nation.”

Sergeant Nicole M. Gee, USMC, was killed in action in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Aug. 26, 2021, alongside 12 other American service members. She was 23 years old.

FREEDOM ISN’T FREE: LANCE CPL JARED M SCHMITZ, US MARINE CORPS

Juels shared her understanding of the saying “freedom isn’t free” in an interview with Fox News Digital.

“You know, freedom isn’t free because a lot of them don’t make it home. And they know that when they sign up, they’re willing to take that risk so that people can live in a country like ours,” said Juels.

The Gold Star aunt added, “It’s unfortunate that we’re living in a time where people forget that. But it’s not. Freedom isn’t free. It takes a lot of work and a lot of sacrifice. And I just like them to remember that, you know, [the Fourth of July is] not just about barbecues.”

According to aunt Cheryl, Nicole was raised with a strong culture of service. Juels said, “We come from a military family. We have several family members that serve, and so Nicole grew up with a military family background. Then her high school sweetheart, Jarod, joined the Marines.”

Nicole assisted Jarod in his training to become a recon Marine, and was inspired to join the service herself. Juels recalls, “She was very, very smart, very driven. And there was just no way she was going to be a dependent. So she followed along and she joined the Marines, too.”

Nicole and Jarod were married in August 2016 and were stationed together at Camp LeJeune in North Carolina. Sgt. Gee was later deployed on a Navy ship where she took up jiu-jitsu, which became a great passion.

Juels recalls, “During that time, while Nicole was on ship, she ended up starting jiu-jitsu. And within six months before she got off that ship, she became a black belt in jiu-jitsu and a martial arts instructor. That was the hardest thing physically and mentally she’d ever done.”

“You know, freedom isn’t free because a lot of them don’t make it home. And they know that when they sign up, they’re willing to take that risk so that people can live in a country like ours.” 

— Cheryl Juels

Nicole was a “gym rat,” who took her fitness seriously. “It was a big thing, you know, for her to be physically active and physically fit and, you know, readiness was a big thing for her.” Gee received perfect scores on her Combat Fitness Tests.

Shortly after being promoted to the rank of sergeant on Aug. 2, 2021, Gee was deployed to Afghanistan on Aug. 13.

USMC Sgt. Nicole M. Gee receiving a medal, left, and shaking an officer's hand, right

Juels recalls Gee’s deployment, saying, “Her communication started out a little bit more frequent in the beginning. You know, she was one to not want anybody to worry. So she just kept saying, ‘We’re fine, we’re fine. Don’t listen to what you hear on the news.'”

“We have a lot of guys here. You know, I think in the beginning, before the airfield was taken over… and the Taliban got closer, she was more positive. And then after that, it was less, less verbal communication,” she added.

Marine Sgt. Nicole Gee evacuating refugees from Afghanistan, left, and holding a falcon, right

Cheryl Juels believes there was a fundamental lack of leadership, arguing, “There was just not a lot of support from the top-down, but I know that they all just said they just wanted to go fast and furious. And I know Nicole volunteered. You know, she worked 12, 14 hours a day at her regular job loading transport planes.”

“And then after that, she would just go restock with water and whatever she could. And then, you know, her and a couple other girls would go out and volunteer, team members, to search for women and children to get them through, because if they didn’t, then they knew they were going to be left behind,” Juels recalled.

The Nicole M. Gee Memorial Foundation aims to support military families, including health and wellness outreach, and promoting service and sacrifice.

Juels said Nicole would have wanted to spend the Fourth of July with family. 

“She would want us to all get together and just do something fun, just laugh and have fun. That’s what she would want.”

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