Local Afghanistan war veterans react to U.S. departure

Published: Aug. 18, 2021 at 5:14 PM EDT
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CLARKSBURG, W.Va (WDTV) - As the fall of Afghanistan continues, two local war veterans share their thoughts about the Taliban takeover.

Both veterans shared their feelings of disappointment as they reflect on their service and see troops leaving a country they fought hard to change. “It does feel like we lost because it just feels like everything we did was in vain,” said Brad Smith.

Images out of Afghanistan show citizens desperate to escape the country as U.S. troops leave in droves. For Smith, the images bring back memories of his service as a Sgt. Contractor from 2005. Even though more than a decade has passed, he says he can’t believe the U.S is leaving. Smith said, “All the years, all the blood, all the tears and for all those that we’re now leaving behind, it does feel like a waste.”

Matthew Simmons was first deployed to Afghanistan in 2007. He says he’s worried for the afghan citizens and officials he built relationships with. “As far as a sense of freedom, they didn’t have a sense of freedom in the sense of what our brass in dc that they were going to do.”

President Biden defended his decision saying that American troops cannot and should not be fighting in a war and dying in a war where Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves. The president said, “The Afghan military collapsed, sometimes without trying to fight, if anything, the developments in the past week reinforced any U.S. military involvement now-- was the right decision.”

Despite the U.S. withdrawing, Simmons and Smith are choosing to remember the heroism of their brothers in arms who ensured two decades of freedom in the war-torn country. “We did everything we could and if you ask any soldier, they’ll tell you, we weren’t fighting for politicians, we were fighting for the men and women next to us,” Simmons said.

Both Smith and Simmons say they hope this reminds citizens that freedom isn’t free and it’s important to stand together instead of letting controversy split the country apart.

To support impetrators who helped soldiers distinguish between the Taliban and locals and bring them back click here.

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