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Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss' name to be engraved on East Tennessee Veterans Memorial

Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss was the last soldier to die in America's longest war, in Afghanistan. He was from Knoxville.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The East Tennessee Veterans Memorial will bear a new name soon — Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss.

He was from Knoxville and served in Afghanistan as the U.S. pulled out of the country. Knauss was located near the Kabul airport as people tried to find a spot on a plane headed near the country, as The Taliban claimed control of the capital city.

He was among 13 U.S. service members killed on Aug. 26, 2021, at the Kabul airport when a bomb exploded during those evacuations. The East Tennessee community gathered to mourn in the days and months after. Small memorials were built across Knox County, and scholarships were established in his name.

Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss was interred at Arlington Cemetery. His name will also be inscribed on the East Tennessee Veterans Memorial. The memorial is located in downtown Knoxville, featuring stone pillars bearing the names of more than 6,000 men and women from East Tennessee who were killed in service.

The names date back to World War I, and the memorial is organized by conflicts that service members were in. Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss' name will join more than a dozen already on the wall for other service members lost in the War in Afghanistan.

Every year on Memorial Day, volunteers read each name aloud. The ceremony starts before sunrise, and so Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss' name will still sound in Knoxville for many years.

The veterans memorial is located adjacent to World's Fair Park, and support for it comes from Knox County, Knoxville, Tennessee and the federal government as well as many business and individual donations.

A list of names organized by county and conflict is available on the memorial's website.

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