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Goodbye to legends: An overview of military heroes who died in 2021

The long list of heroes that passed on in 2021 includes Colin Powell, John Warner and Bob Dole, just to name a few.

NORFOLK, Va. — The nation and the local military community suffered many losses in 2021.

Most tragically: the 13 American service members killed in a suicide attack in the closing days of the war in Afghanistan.

Numerous other inspiring military figures also passed away this year.

The list includes Colin Powell, who once said: "A dream doesn't become a reality through magic. It takes sweat, determination and hard work."

The nation's first Black National Security advisor, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman and Secretary of State died at age 84.

His legacy lives on at Norfolk State University, where he inspired members of the ROTC program.

"To see a dude that was born in Harlem, New York make it that far is just amazing to me," said Cadet Malik Cunningham. "So it kind of inspires me to do good and make things better as I can, try to reach as high as I can."

RELATED: Norfolk State ROTC cadets inspired by late retired Gen. Colin Powell

Sailor, Marine, WWII and Korean War veteran, Secretary of the Navy, and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner of Virginia was warmly remembered upon his death at age 94.

"I will miss his counsel, his humor, but most of all, his friendship. May this American hero rest in peace," said Sen. Mark Warner (D-Virginia) at Warner's memorial service at the Washington National Cathedral.

RELATED: Hampton Roads lawmakers react to passing of former Virginia Senator John Warner

SEAL Team 8 Commander Brian Bourgeois was hurt when he fell while fast-roping from a helicopter. He died days later, at age 43.

Naval Academy teammates said he'll never be forgotten.

"It's like we lost a family member," said classmate Justin Jordan. "'Booj' lived that ethos. He trained as hard as anybody and pushed these guys to be the best."

RELATED: SEAL Team 8 commanding officer dies in training accident, former Navy Football teammates remember their friend

Hampton Roads and the country also said goodbye to the first commanding officer of the Navy's elite SEAL Team Six, Richard "Dick" Marcinko, who died at age 81.

And, retired General Ray Odierno, who once commanded U.S. Joint Forces Command in Suffolk, who died at age 65.

WWII hero and longtime Kansas Senator Bob Dole also passed away, at age 98.

He was remembered by fellow World War II veteran and retired Virginia Congressman Bill Whitehurst.

"Unquestionably, he was a war hero," he said. "Served his country, was grievously wounded, could have died on the battlefield. But he survived after painful rehabilitation. And then of course went on to become a statesman."

Other noteworthy military passings this year include legendary Navy Tomcat pilot and air show star Dale "Snort" Snodgrass, who once served as Commander of Fighter Wing Atlantic. He died in a plane crash. He was 71.

The country also said goodbye to retired Rear Admiral Earl "Buddy" Yates, the first commanding officer of the original USS John F. Kennedy. He was 97. 

At age 19, Yates was the youngest Midshipman ever to graduate from the United States Naval Academy. 

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