‘I will always be so proud of you’: Emotional farewell for Navy Corpsman Max Soviak

Published: Sep. 13, 2021 at 8:27 PM EDT
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MILAN, Ohio (WTVG) - People around the world now know the name Max Soviak.

A son of northern Ohio, they know his name because of how he gave his life.

In Erie County, they know his name because of how he lived his life.

“Maxton was MAX, in all capital letters, all the time,” his sister Kathleen Soviak said. “He threw himself into everything he did with a fierce passion.”

Soviak, a native of Berlin Heights, was among 13 U.S. service members killed in a bombing at the Kabul airport in Afghanistan in the final days of the military’s mission to evacuate Americans and Afghans trying to flee the country.

A funeral service was held Monday at Edison High School, where Soviak graduated from in 2017 before enlisting in the Navy. The Sailor was assigned to 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

The Navy posthumously advanced him to the rank of Hospital Corpsman Third Class after his death and awarded him the Purple Heart and Fleet Marine Force Corpsman warfare badge.

It didn’t take long for Soviak to became known to the Marines he served alongside as “Doc.”

To the 12 siblings he leaves behind, he was known as a role model and someone who could always make people smile.

His younger sister, Josepheen Soviak, recalled the letters Max would send her when he was away.

Josepheen Soviak at her brother's funeral service

One of the most emotional parts of this morning’s funeral service for Max Soviak. His sister, Josepheen, says her goodbye in the style of his boot camp letters.

Posted by Josh Croup on Monday, September 13, 2021

“He would always start his boot camp letters with, ‘Hey little sis’ and end them with, ‘Love, your big brother,” she said.

She then turned away from the podium and looked at his flag-draped casket that rested behind her to say her goodbye.

“Hey big brother,” Josepheen said. “Say hi to Nayla for me. I hope you rest in eternal peace. To the other military members up there, please take care of him and thank you for your service. I’ll see you again one day, Max. I love you. I will always be so proud of you. Love, your little sis.”

Max’s father, Kip Soviak, described Max’s final moments as told to him by his commanding officer. He said Max was providing medical care to a mother and her child as the crowd grew more desperate to get out and the U.S. was close to leaving Afghanistan. That’s when the bomb exploded.

“Our son did not suffer,” he said.

Kip Soviak at son's funeral

He was taking care of others until the very end. Kip Soviak, Max’s dad, shares the details of what Max was doing at the Kabul airport when a bomb went off and killed him and 12 other U.S. service members.

Posted by Josh Croup on Monday, September 13, 2021

Kip Soviak then read the names of the other 12 service members killed in the attack.

“Hero,” he said after finishing reading each name. He choked up after reading his son’s title of Corpsman before proceeding to say his name.

“Maxton William Soviak. Hero. My hero,” he said.

Max Soviak's dad said his son's memorial service was big enough to share with every member of the armed forces who lost their lives defending our country. He read off the names of all 13 U.S. service members killed in Afghanistan last month and called them all heroes. “Corpsman Maxton William Soviak. Hero. My hero,” he said.

Posted by Josh Croup on Monday, September 13, 2021

The school district canceled classes Monday for the service. Teachers, administrators and staff members worked to set up the service, direct traffic and drive guests to the stadium in golf carts.

The football field where he shined as an athlete featured 635 chairs Monday. The population of Berlin Heights two weeks ago was 636.

Hundreds of people also filled the bleachers of the stadium for the service. Some saw him play on that field. Others never knew Max personally, but went anyway to show their support.

All of them will forever remember his sacrifice on the battlefield.

“He died doing what he was passionate about, surrounded by his brothers, and that brings me peace,” his older sister Marilyn Soviak said.

You can watch the full service by clicking here.

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