By Marissa Perlman

ROSEVILLE (CBS13) — A “Marine’s Marine” and a hometown hero. The life of Sgt. Nicole Gee—who was killed while helping to evacuate thousands in Afghanistan last month—was celebrated in a memorial service in Roseville on Saturday.

Family and friends spoke out about Gee’s life and said she died doing what she loved.

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Bagpipes blared and a soulful serenade helped honor the life of Sgt. Gee.

Hundreds showed up to Bayside Church to hear about the woman killed along with 12 other service members in a suicide-bomber attack outside Kabul’s airport.

Gee’s older sister shared that it was her last stop on a humanitarian mission helping to evacuate 100,000 refugees.

“Her selflessness and willingness to help others drove everything she did,” Gee’s sister said.

In this Aug. 20, 2021, image provided by the U.S. Marine Corps, Marines assigned to the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), including Sgt. Nicole Gee calms an infant during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. Officials said Aug. 28, that Gee of Sacramento, Calif., was one of the Marines killed in Thursday’s bombing at the airport. (Sgt. Isaiah Campbell/U.S. Marine Corps)

Gee may also be remembered for that iconic image of her cradling an infant in her arms in the middle of the chaos at the Kabul airport.

On social media, just days before her death, she wrote, “I love my job.”

“That is who Nicole was: brave, strong and compassionate,” her aunt Cheryl Juels said.

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Juels says what the photo didn’t show is the chaos that surrounded Gee on that day—dirty and sleep-deprived, trying to help thousands flee while surrounded by the Taliban.

“She loved she was making a difference and would’ve given her life for that one single baby,” Juels said. 

In a tribute, her best friend stood beside Gee’s husband and high school sweetheart—both fellow marines.

“She was brilliant, she was bold and she was brave,” her friend said. “She was my person, a Marine’s Marine.”

She said because of the work Gee did in her final days, she knows her friend died proud.

“Nicole’s role in ending a twenty-year war will never be forgotten,” Gee’s friend said.

Gee’s father only asked the community for one thing: “Never forget.”

It was a celebration of a life cut short, who we can’t thank for her sacrifice but will never be forgotten.

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After the service, Gee’s flag-draped casket was carried outside the church for full military funeral honors. Gee’s family and husband were presented with a flag followed by a procession.