MILAN, Ohio ( WJW)- Petty Officer 3rd Class Maxton Soviak was laid to rest today and honored for giving the ultimate sacrifice when he gave his life while serving his country.
22-year-old Soviak was among the 13 U.S. service members killed in an attack on the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 26. Soviak was part of the U.S. mission, Operation Allies Refuge, to evacuate tens of thousands of people from Afghanistan as the nation ended its 20-year-long war in that country.
His funeral service was held at the Edison High School football stadium in Milan this morning.
Kip Soviak, Maxton’s father, spoke at the service saying that a tragedy like this has made the Soviak family stronger and also the community stronger.
Kip and Maxton’s mother, Rachel, were able to speak with Maxton’s commanding officer and learned that the final moments before their son’s death were heroic.
“It was while he was providing aid (to a mother and child) that the bomber slipped up into the chaos and struck. Our son did not suffer,” he said.
His siblings also spoke at the service saying it is an honor to see the nation mourn the loss of this American hero because “once he put that uniform on, he belonged to us all,” but they also gave insight into what is was like to grow up with their brother, whom they affectionately called, “our Max.”
His sister Kathleen said although he loved traveling the world he never forgot the importance of coming home.
“For everyone who wants to honor Maxton’s memory,” she said, “this is what I have to offer you: Go live. Fill the book of your life with stories. Push yourself to do something that scares you. Go bigger. Go harder. And most importantly of all, love fiercely.”
A letter from Master Sargent Hurley was read during the funeral and it explains the work in Afghanistan that Soviak was doing just days before he was killed.
The letter says Soviak consoled children who were sobbing, scared and recently separated from their parents then he helped bring them away from the chaos at the Kabul airport and to safety at a nearby hospital.
It’s estimated that thousands of people filled the bleachers for the funeral but significantly less chairs were symbolically placed on the field.
In fact, there were exactly 635 chairs. The meaning behind it: Two weeks ago, the Village of Berlin Heights was home to 636 residents but now they are missing one.
It was said during the service: “We are missing Maxton William Soviak and we are missing him dearly. While Maxton may be gone from us, he will live forever in our memories and in our hearts.”
The service ended with the Lord’s Prayer, a gun salute and the signaling of taps, as shown in the video below.
Soviak was a standout football player, on the wrestling team and graduated from Edison High School in 2017. He was involved in the Boy Scouts and earned the Life Scout rank.
The Edison Local Schools community honored Soviak Friday night with his jersey number painted on the football field, a moment of silence and a flyover by four F-16 fighter jets in the missing man formation.
“He was a very strong kid, he was always the toughest in the room and anything that he wanted to do he put his head down and he made sure that he did that. And just like going over there, he was helping people that needed to be helped and he didn’t give a second thought about it,” said Soviak’s close childhood friend, Bryce Ostheimer.
The Navy posthumously awarded Soviak the Purple Heart and promoted him to Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class.