Disneyland honors Marine who died during 2021 Kabul attack

Marine Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola, 20, was a California native who was murdered in the Aug. 26 suicide bombing amid the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. 13 U.S. service members were killed in the attack on Hamid Karzai International Airport – which also killed at least 170 Afghan civilians and injured more than 150 others.

The Merola family was acknowledged during the Disneyland Resort Flag Retreat Ceremony in Anaheim, California. Merola’s family was in attendance, including his mother, his grandparents and his sister. 

Merola's family was acknowledged during the ceremony.

Merola’s family was acknowledged during the ceremony. (Disneyland Resort)

“It meant so much to me today to honor my son,” Cheryl Rex, Merola’s mother, said. “As he was growing up, we attended a lot of things at Disneyland. We had season passes since he was little.”

US ABANDONED $ 7B IN MILITARY EQUIPMENT IN AFGHANISTAN AHEAD OF TALIBAN TAKEOVER

Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola was killed in Kabul attack.

Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola was killed in Kabul attack. (Deborah Gembara/Mana Rabiee)

“It’s very meaningful. It’s a special place to us,” Rex added. 

Family members say that Merola had only been in Afghanistan for less than two weeks when he was killed during the tragic attack.

THESE ARE THE US SERVICE MEMBERS KILLED IN THE KABUL AIRPORT ATTACK

Marine Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola, who died during the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, was honored at Disneyland.

Marine Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola, who died during the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, was honored at Disneyland. (Disneyland Resort)

The ceremony – which has been a tradition at Disney resort parks for decades – is held daily both at Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. 

Merola’s ceremony was not the only time the Walt Disney Company honored the service members who died during the Afghanistan withdrawal. They held a similar Disneyland ceremony for Hunter Lopez, a 22-year old Marine, in September 2021. 

AFGHANISTAN COLLAPSE ONE YEAR LATER: JENNIFER GRIFFIN RECOUNTS HOW TALIBAN TOOK OVER

Marine Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola was one of 13 service members killed in the 2021 Kabal attack.

Marine Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola was one of 13 service members killed in the 2021 Kabal attack. (Disneyland Resort)

According to his mother, Lopez was a big fan of Disney. He reportedly told his parents he wanted to be buried with a lightsaber he made at Disneyland in 2019. 

Merola's mother Cheryl Rex was presented with the Navy Achievement Medal.

Merola’s mother Cheryl Rex was presented with the Navy Achievement Medal. (Disneyland Resort)

“As we walked into Disneyland, the marching band was coming out onto Main Street [U.S.A.] and started to play a Star Wars song,” Hunter’s mother Alicia told Disney Parks Blog. “We don’t know if it was Disney magic or whether it was Hunter, but either way it felt good knowing he was there with us.”

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