Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss, 23, and 12 of his fellow United States service members lost their lives during a suicide bombing at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul on Aug. 26, 2021.
The soldier’s mother said that she has spent every day for the past year thinking about her son.
“Ryan doesn’t leave me on any day,” Paula Knauss Selph told Fox News. If she could see him again, she said she would just want to hold him and tell him, “job well done.”
According to his mother, nobody was shocked when her son decided to enlist. His grandfather, who served in World War II, was one of many veterans in his family.
Paula Knauss Selph can still recall how her son’s favorite pastime was donning camouflage and running around holding a toy gun and walkie-talkie in each hand.
In the fields and woods near their Corryton, Tennessee, home, Ryan Knauss and his older brother Tyler Knauss would play army as they grew older.
“His dream, his heart, his purpose in life was to serve in the armed forces,” Paula Knauss Selph said, according to Fox News.
When he was old enough, a young Ryan Knauss persistently pursued a switch from private school to public high school so he could join the junior ROTC program.
Eventually, he brought home recruitment papers, and despite not being legally old enough he was determined to join, even if he had to become emancipated to do so.
“‘Ryan, you were born to be in the armed forces,'” the soldier’s mother recalled telling him. “‘We want you to do what you really want to do in life.'”
After his first mission in Afghanistan Paula Knauss Selph said he “wouldn’t talk about some of the things that happened,” and “it was really hard on him when he got back.”
However, he worked hard to make his way into Special Operations Forces and was ultimately placed in the 9th Battalion, 8th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne).
“He became quite confident in life,” Paula Knauss Selph recalled of her son. “He lit up a room with his encouragement to the troops. They will often talk about that. And Ryan could see the potential in something when others saw not enough hope.”
In mid-August of 2021, Ryan Knauss was deployed again to Afghanistan to assist with the evacuation of U.S. personnel and Afghan refugees, according to Fox News.
It was Aug. 24 after things became dire in the region that Paula Knauss Selph was sent a selfie from her son along with the message, “All good here mom, I love you.”
That was her last message from her son and Paula Knauss Selph remembered hearing about the bombing she said she only heard about Marine casualties, not any from the Army.
When Tyler Knauss called his mother to tell him about his brother’s death Paula Knauss Selph reacted in disbelief: “I didn’t believe it,” the soldier’s mom said. “Your kids should not die before you.”
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