Mr. Soviak served as a Navy medic when he was killed, according to a statement from the Edison Local School District announcing his death. Mr. Soviak graduated from Edison High School in 2017, the district said.
“Everybody looked to Max in tough situations,” said Jim Hall, his high-school football coach, who described Mr. Soviak as a deeply loyal friend. “He was energetic. He wore his emotions on his sleeve. He was a passionate kid. He didn’t hold anything back.”
Mr. Soviak’s social-media profile showed an exuberant young man charging into the world — diving off a rocky precipice, rock-climbing, hiking the Grand Canyon. “If the world was coming to an end, I don’t wanna close my eyes without feeling like I lived,” he wrote in one post.
On Friday, Mr. Hall’s phone rang with people calling to mourn and share memories, and one image of Mr. Soviak kept returning to Mr. Hall’s mind. It was from a snowy regional playoff game a few years ago in which Mr. Soviak helped make a last-second quarterback sack to win the game.
Mr. Hall remembered watching Mr. Soviak celebrate on the field, exultant, snow swirling around him.
At least two of the slain service members were from California. They were identified by local law enforcement and a U.S. congressman as Hunter Lopez, 22, a Marine who is the son of two officers of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, and Marine Lance Cpl. Kareem Nikoui, a young martial arts champion from Norco, according to his social media accounts.
On Friday, Kareem Nikoui’s mother, Shana Chappell, posted a photo on her Instagram account of her son with a broad smile, cradling his rifle amid the crowds of civilians and razor wire at the gate of the airport in Kabul. “This is the last picture my son sent me of himself. It was taken on Sunday. I know i am still in shock right now. I felt my soul leave my body as i was screaming that it can’t be true! No mother, no parent should ever have to hear that their child is gone,” she wrote in the post.