No, don't look away. Meet the thousand-yard stare of 23-year old Marine Sergeant Tyler Vargas Andrews. He was hit in the suicide bombing at the Kabul airport on 8/26 and lost an arm and a leg. Twenty-nine surgeries later, his GoFundMe is still $30k dollars short of their goal. Please help if you're able: https://www.gofundme.com/f/the-sergeant-tyler-family-fund
You're supposed to forget all about Afghanistan. Forget the 13 Brave soldiers who died. Forget the wounded, especially double amputee Sgt. Tyler Vargas-Andrews. Nothing to see here. Move along.
Well, Americans have dug in their heels. We refuse to forget. We refuse to say, "Shucks. How unfortunate. Well, better luck next time."
And the Marines who served in Afghanistan during those last few months of chaos are speaking out. Brutally, viciously, profanely, honestly, anonymously.
These are their stories in their words.
You thought you knew how bad it was? Oh, Honey, you ain't heard nothin' yet.
"Grown ass men stampeding and hitting babies...kicking a pregnant woman in the stomach"
Anonymous US Marine. 1/8 E Btry. Kabul Airport, Afghanistan 2021.
Ever since I joined the Marine Corps I wanted to deploy to Afghanistan. I wanted to become a “Real GWOT Marine”. Needless to say I was ecstatic to go into Afghanistan and help with the evacuation. I would soon learn how foolish that thought was.
Our priority during the evacuation was to control the “comfort area” and escort people to the airport. At one point we had over 5,000 refugees with only 100 Marines and some Soldiers to control them. Riots and fights broke out daily. Grown ass men stampeding and hitting babies, little kids, and even kicking a pregnant woman in the stomach, resulting in a miscarriage and vaginal bleeding immediately. All of this just to get some food, water, or the cardboard from the MRE box to sit on.
After a few days we finally had the go ahead to get these people on buses and get them the hell out. Little did we know that they still had to get vetted. We were under the impression that they wouldn’t make it this far without knowing 100% that they were good to leave. The consulate came and vetted people, resulting in over half having to be sent back to the north gate, after having lived in that hell for days. I didn’t care about the single guys because they were all assholes anyways. But having to shove women and little kids out, that I had fist bumped and reassured hours earlier, is what makes me hate myself. A fist bump will never be the same…
I’m mad at the organization and the administration for making me do this. I’m mad that I didn’t have answers for them. I’m mad that I had to shove women and children towards the Taliban, knowing full well what their fate would be. I’m mad…. and I’m sorry.”
"Pushing women holding babies into concertina wire"
Anonymous US Marine. 1/8. Kabul Airport, Afghanistan. 2021.
“One of the biggest things that sticks with me from that place was how much unnecessary death there was. Men were trampling and hurting little kids, pushing women holding babies into c-wire obstacles set up to control the flow. We were authorized to have warning shots and the Afghan contractors accidentally shot several people on several occasions.
One time we were outside of the gate, shoulder-to-shoulder with riot shields. We had to use non lethal on them regularly because if we didn’t then they would literally kill each other to get through to us but it was brutal. We threw flashbangs over their heads, shot them with rubber bullets, beat them with batons and I just told myself it was because we didn’t want them to trample and kill each other.
OC spray and CS gas was also used and I just thought, damn, this shit fucks me up how are these kids dealing with this. I watched one woman get shot in the chest by an Afghan contractor in front of her family and I just don’t even understand why.
Between that and kicking families out because I was forced to kick them out because they didn’t have the right paperwork and after trying every way in the world to bring them in as the children pulled on my arm and begged me while the fathers would say to just shoot them because that’s a better death than they would receive.
I just don’t feel good about any of it. We let them down and we tried our best. I’m angry that this all could’ve been avoided if we had started evacuating before the city fell. The whole city was petrified of the Taliban who claimed they were helping despite the decapitated bodies they would bring to the gate to warn citizens that would be their fate if they didn’t leave.”
"Dead babies being thrown into the wadi."
Anonymous US Marine. 1/8. Kabul 2021.
“I watched the ANA shoot a six year old kid in the stomach with a 12 gauge rubber round. I was horrified, and I’ll never be able to get the sound that poor kid made out of my head.
The next day my Platoon was conducting searches of the refugees and this one kid who must’ve been 15 said his brother had his ID but he was at the front of the gate. I took him down there to look, and immediately I saw a father holding his little girl over the gate trying to get us to take her, and the ANA hit her in the stomach repeatedly to get her off the gate. I was sickened.
I recall after the Abbey Gate incident that everyone was paranoid and tense, and rightly so. Later, I was on post and we were given a handful of BOLOs. The one that concerned us the most was a white Toyota followed by an oil tanker. Intel had reported the oil tanker was a 2,000 IED. A tanker ended up rolling up and stopping about 50m east of our gate, let a military aged male out of its passenger seat, then drove up and parked on the road directly in front of the gate. After it had stopped, the driver just looked at us and had his hands somewhere near his lap. He sat there watching us, and we sat there watching him knowing that if that was our IED, we’d be dead before we could do anything due to our rules of engagement. He stepped off after about 3ish minutes. I’d never been more scared in my entire life and I still haven’t forgot what it feels like.
It was all just terrible in every aspect. Men beating their wives and kids, women using their kids as human shields, escorting families back out the gate as they begged us to shoot them instead of turning them back to streets where the Taliban would find them, dead/dying civilians being carried back and forth, the bodies of dead babies being thrown into the wadi that ran next to the gate. It was a mess.
And what I hate the most is having left knowing that we could’ve saved more people. I’ll never forgive myself for any of it. And worst of all, I feel bad for the families of the men and women who gave their lives trying to save others. They deserve better, and unfortunately, they’ll probably never get it.”
"There’s nothing for me to be proud of."
Anonymous US Marine. 2/1. Kabul Airport, Afghanistan. 2021.
“I know I signed up to suffer. But I straight up feel used and abused, dude. I can’t even legally drink alcohol and they made me separate families and watch people beat children. Bro, joining the military was the worst decision I ever made. I didn’t sign up for THIS. I love my platoon and my friends but this isn’t it.
I wanted to serve my country and now I can’t sleep or even be around little kids now. That shit at the airport was so unbelievably fucked up that I have to force myself not to cry like all day long. I can’t even go to my chain of command or they will label me a sad Marine and kick me out.
A bunch of Marines in the Corps right now are saying they’re jealous of the dudes who “got to go” to Kabul and do their jobs. Bitch, don’t be jealous of this shit. All we did was save a few people and send literally ten times more to their deaths. I’m gonna live with this shit for the rest of my life and I’m only 20 years old.
I should have gone to college but I got sucked in by a pair of dress blues and clever commercials….I hate that they made us do that…I’ll never forgive them for fucking this up so bad. This isn’t the war my big brothers got to fight. There’s nothing for me to be proud of....I’m just so unbelievably pissed off about all this.”
"[They] make up bullshit families right outside the gate."
Anonymous US Marine. V1/8 Bravo Co. Kabul Airport, Afghanistan. 2021.
“...The smell was terrible and the place was disgusting but when we pushed out the gate the first time I was expecting decent people, half-assed lines, but that was not the case. It was chaotic people, shit, concertina wire, gunshots, trash and babies getting tossed around.
Then they tried breaking through the line and we had to beat the fuck out of these people. And it wasn’t mostly women and kids; it was 95% military aged men fleeing their country like cowards. By Day Two my hard-knuckle gloves where shattered from fighting them off.
Now the kids maybe under 16 I felt bad for, and babies that got fucked up because of their shitty parents; not us. Splitting families didn’t really bother me because I watched them make up bullshit families right outside the gate.
Soft-ass Marines trying to let everyone in didn’t help either. Get fucked. It’s not like the Taliban took the country in a day; they had time and waited until now. So I had no sympathy for these people.
If they would have turned around and fought back they would have their country....”
With thanks to Nicholas Laidlaw for your service and collecting these stories and to Kara Hackney for keeping America updated on the condition of those wounded in Afghanistan on 8/26. You're my heroes.
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