'It's been horrifying': Afghanistan withdrawal difficult to watch for some vets who served in war

Diane Pathieu Image
Tuesday, August 31, 2021
Afghanistan withdrawal difficult to watch for some vets who served in war
A local veteran speaks on the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

SCHERERVILLE, Ind. (WLS) -- After nearly 20 years in Afghanistan, all U.S. service members have all left.

Watching this all unfold in the Middle East has been incredibly difficult for some, especially those that served and continue to serve.

Schererville, Indiana native Zachary Wood, 31, has first-hand knowledge of the Afghan war. He was deployed back in 2011 for the United States Marine Corps.

"I keep putting myself in the shoes of a lance corporal, or a corporal that's standing by a gate, watching a bunch of Afghan citizens trying to get to freedom and fighting for their essentially their own livelihood, their own survival and it's been horrifying to watch," Wood said. "I don't know if it could have went better. It could have been worse."

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The secretary of state acknowledged Afghanistan is now in the hands of the Taliban, but also said the United States is willing to work with the Afghan government.

Wood said from the start, military members knew the Afghan National Army had no interest defending themselves.

"Ten years ago when I was there, I was watching the Afghan National Army train, if that's what you want to call it, it was almost laughable. We all knew, everybody on the ground, that they were never going to put up a fight against the Taliban, a real fight, and that they were going to hand everything over and ten years later that's exactly what happened"

But an issue remains, leaving no man behind- that means not only Americans, but translators and others that committed to helping the U.S. in a foreign land.

The United States also left behind billions of dollars of military hardware, including rockets, now in the hands of the Taliban. And there was significant loss of life:

"The cost was 2,461 U.S. service members and civilians killed and more than 20,000 who were injured," said General Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., commander of U.S. Central Command. "Sadly that includes 13 U.S. Service members who were killed last week by an ISIS-K suicide bomber."

There are also people left behind, America's allies. Wood said his heart aches for those that helped our service men and women, like his interpreter, who is a U.S. citizen and here at home, but his family is still there. He is working hard to reunite them.

"Our efforts have not succeeded yet, but I'm hopeful that his family can get back here because what a lot of people don't realize is, those interpreters that we had, they are just as important as the Marine to my left and the Marine to my right," Wood said.