BY SHERI TRUSTY, CMP FEATURE WRITER
When Navy Corpsman Maxton (Max) Soviak of Milan, Ohio was killed in 2021 by a suicide bomber while assisting evacuees in Kabul, Afghanistan, he left behind a legacy of passion for life and service that lives on today in the Corpsman Maxton W. Soviak Memorial Foundation.
The foundation was established by Max’s parents, Kip and Rachel Soviak, to honor their son and continue the benevolence that defined Max’s life.
This year, the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) is honoring Max by naming the annual rimfire sporter match at the National Rifle and Pistol Matches the Max Soviak National CMP Rimfire Sporter Match.
The event will begin with a CMP Rimfire Clinic on Friday, July 7, and the Sporter Match that will open the shooting competition on Saturday, July 8. The month-long National Rifle and Pistol Matches will attract more than 4,500 shooters will run through Aug. 5, and spectators are welcome.
The CMP staff has long wanted to find a way to pay tribute to Max Soviak, who spent countless hours as a youth at Camp Perry.
“When the CMP staff heard that Max had been killed, we were heartbroken,” said CMP Programs Chief Christie Sewell. “We wanted to do a memorial to him, but there were so many people doing things, so we waited.”
Soviak touched many people in his lifetime.
“He was well-liked by his peers,” Kip said. “He had an infectious smile, and he loved to pull shenanigans. If he ever got in trouble, he could talk his way out of anything.”
After graduating from Edison High School in Milan in 2017, Max joined the Navy with a dream to become a corpsman. Following medic training, he served in a Guam hospital for two years. While there, Max’s adventurous spirit inspired him to help form a biddy wrestling program and engage in cliff diving, scuba diving, CrossFit, wrestling and jujitsu.
Soviet’s dream of becoming a Greenside Corpsman with the Marines led him to Camp Pendleton for training, and after graduation, he was deployed with the 2/1 Marine Battalion in Jordan. While there, Max’s battalion was sent to assist evacuees trying to escape the Taliban in Kabul, Afghanistan.
“Everything was happening in Afghanistan, and they were trying to get people out,” Kip said. “His was the closest military unit to help, so they were thrown on a plane and sent to Kabul.”
Soviak spent eight days working at the Abbey Gate of Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, helping to save lives. In the end, he gave his.
“On Aug. 26, a suicide bomber slipped in there and detonated,” Kip said.
Max was among 13 service members killed. He was 22.
Back in Ohio, friends and strangers began sending money to the Soviak family to honor the fallen hero. Those donations were used to create the Corpsman Maxton W. Soviak Memorial Foundation, which provides adventures, experiences and resources to veterans and their families so they can “live life to the MAX!”
“Rachel and I thought, ‘What do we do with all this money?’” Kip said. “After seeing the boys who came back from Kabul, they all seemed like they needed some sort of help. What they saw was horrendous. We set up a foundation to help veterans with whatever they might need.”
The foundation honors Max’s life and reflects his adventurous personality by helping veterans enjoy life any way possible.
“We didn’t want to stick to one thing. Max was always changing his mind about what he wanted to do with his career and after his career, and we followed that thought process,” Kip said.
The foundation has provided veterans with service dogs and emotional support dogs, sent a veteran and his wife on a NASCAR trip, and assisted a veteran family who needed adaptive services to visit Disney World.
Members of the Soviak family will return to Camp Perry to participate in the Max Soviak National CMP Rimfire Sporter Match in July.
“Right after Max passed, his dad reached out to us and wanted us to know that CMP had a very positive impact on his son and family,” Sewell said.
The match will kick off when a member of the Soviak family fires the Camp Perry National Matches cannon on Saturday, July 8 at 7:45 a.m. Following the firing, a brick inscribed with “HM3 Max Soviak, CMP Competitor, Friend & Hero” will be unveiled at Shooter’s Memorial Plaza by the main flagpole.
Competitors will receive event t-shirts depicting an image of Max and the foundation’s motto, “Live Life to the MAX.”
Raffle tickets for a Savage Mark II-FVT Rifle donated by Savage can be purchased for 1 for $5 or 6 for $20. Proceeds from the raffle go to the Corpsman Maxton W. Soviak Memorial Foundation.
“The rimfire sporter match has kind of a carnival atmosphere. It’s one of our favorite matches,” Sewell said. “It will be just a fun day where we remember Max and celebrate his life. We’re excited about it. They are such a sweet, kind family, and they are doing a lot for Max.”
The Max Soviak National CMP Rimfire Sporter Match offers competitors a recreation-oriented competition where they use smallbore .22 sporter rifles (plinking and small game rifles) commonly owned by almost all gun enthusiasts. This is a unique match where all that’s needed to compete is a rifle and ammo. Participants must fire with standard sporter-type rimfire rifles that weigh no more than 7½ pounds. More information can be found at https://thecmp.org/cmp-matches/national-rimfire-sporter-rifle-match/ or call 419-635-2141 for more details.