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Some veterans angered by events in Afghanistan

Published: Aug. 26, 2021 at 5:57 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - As the events in Afghanistan play out, it’s angering some U.S. veterans who served in that country.

One Army veteran we spoke with was deployed with one of the units that’s currently in Kabul trying to secure the airport. He’s worried about their safety.

“The longer that they’re there, the easier target they are,” said Matthew Boone, who served at Fort Drum and was deployed to Afghanistan in December 2001.

He says his unit, the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry of the 10th Mountain Division, also known as the Polar Bears, is part of the effort to secure the Kabul airport and evacuate Americans and Afghanis safely. He says he knows some of the troops that are over there and can only imagine the frustration.

“I know if I was them and I was on the ground, I would kind of feel betrayed that, you know, I was left out to dry,” he said.

Boone says that’s because of the lack of help they’re getting. His fears came true on Thursday when two explosions near Kabul’s airport killed 12 U.S. service members, with at least 15 injured.

A.J. Johnston is an Army veteran and served at Fort Drum. He deployed to Afghanistan about a month after 9/11. He doesn’t personally know any soldiers in Kabul, but he says he’s disgusted with what’s happened.

“I pray that there’s a better plan for those guys over there because, right now, they’re in a bad situation,” he said.

The situation is so bad that Boone feels the last 20 years haven’t paid off.

“A lot of people don’t like using the word we ‘lost’ in Afghanistan, but what else can you call it? What other thing can you go and do something for 20 years and then turn around and have it completely go back to the way it was and not call it a loss,” said Boone.

Johnston doesn’t see it that way. He says he didn’t expect everything to unravel so quickly, but he’s looking at the silver lining.

“We took down the Taliban. We put them in the closet there for 20 years. Osama bin Laden’s dead,” he said.

Both men say that the U.S.’s goal right now should be to get all Americans home ASAP.

And Boone says he’s still worried about the situation in Kabul and thinks it could get worse before it gets better.

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