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Friday marks a year since death of Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss, the last soldier to die in Afghanistan

On August 26, 2021, Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss died in a bombing outside of Kabul's airport while evacuations were underway in Afghanistan.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — On August 26, 2021, U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Ryan Knauss died outside the Kabul airport as the U.S. military pulled out of Afghanistan. A year later, his impact on the East Tennessee community is still profound.

Soon after his family learned that he passed away, the East Tennessee community started outpouring support and grief. Memorials were built at gas stations to remember him, while a scholarship was established at the University of Tennessee in his name.

He was interred in Arlington National Cemetery after his body was escorted through East Tennessee to Virginia with solemn crowds paying respect along the way. The service was private, but the U.S. Army released images of the ceremony.

In May, his name was engraved on the East Tennessee Veterans Memorial. Later that same month, his name was read aloud at the memorial for Veterans Day.

He attended Gibbs High School and joined the military shortly after graduation in 2016. His stepmother said he loved to laugh, help his wife Alena in her garden, and enjoyed working with his hands to build things.

"I'm very honored, humbled, and I was blessed to be his dad," said Greg Knauss in a previous interview, reflecting on his soldier son. “You know, I did try to raise him to be a hard worker. He was very smart and made excellent grades. He was, you know, I had him for 18 years. And then, he was sworn in."

Earlier in August, state leaders presented a portrait of Knauss to his Alma Mater as well. Friends and family attended the ceremony to remember his service and sacrifice. Lawmakers also renamed a part of a highway in Knox County to honor Knauss, a portion of Tazewell Pike and Emory Road in Corryton.

“It feels like there's a piece of me missing,” said Greg Knauss in a previous interview.  "I understand everybody grieves differently. And so there's, there's no right or wrong way to do it. But I'm a Christian and the Lord's carrying me through this, no doubt."

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