Sen. Tillis recounts suicide of ex-Marine over Afghan interpreter left behind

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) introduced Tuesday’s Senate Armed Services Committee listening to with prime army brass to a standstill by recounting the story of a former Marine who took his personal life after an Afghan interpreter he labored with was left behind following the evacuation of the war-torn nation final month.

Tillis instructed Secretary of Protection Lloyd Austin, Joint Chiefs of Employees Chairman Gen. Mark Milley and US Central Command chief Gen. Kenneth McKenzie that whereas “some American citizens” and Afghan allies had managed to get out of the Taliban-controlled nation, “we’ve a for much longer checklist of those who we weren’t profitable with getting out.

“Between SIV [Special Immigration Visa] holders and family members, my office alone has over 900 people still on a list of people who are still in Afghanistan,” Tillis added, “and we communicate with these people through WhatsApp. We were trying to shepherd them to [Hamid Karzai International Airport], then back and forth and ultimately operations were shut down and they were stranded and left behind.”

Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) speaks during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the conclusion of military operations in Afghanistan and plans for future counterterrorism operations, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 28, 2021.
Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) speaks throughout a Senate Armed Providers Committee listening to on the conclusion of army operations in Afghanistan and plans for future counterterrorism operations, September 28, 2021.Patrick Semansky/Pool through REUTERS

Tillis started to ask Austin how the Protection Division may assist rescue US allies remaining in Afghanistan and in hiding from the Taliban earlier than stopping to inform of the fallen veteran.

Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, commander of the United States Central Command, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley testify during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing
Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, commander of the US Central Command, Protection Secretary Lloyd Austin, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Employees Gen. Mark Milley testify throughout a Senate Armed Providers Committee listening to, Sept. 28, 2021.
Stefani Reynolds/The New York Instances through AP, Pool

“We were working with a Marine who was trying to get an interpreter out, had been maintaining contact for years,” the senator recalled. “We had all the authenticating documentation. We weren’t successful in that case. That Marine committed suicide about three weeks ago, retired Marine. So this is having real-life consequences, not only in Afghanistan, but here in the United States.”

Earlier than answering Tillis’ query, Austin gave the senator “my deepest condolences on the loss of our Marine. Really saddened to hear that. Thoughts and prayers to his family.”

A Tillis spokesperson instructed The Submit that the Marine in query had served at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, however declined to supply additional particulars out of respect for the deceased and his household.

“Our office received many calls from veterans and servicemembers asking for assistance to evacuate the interpreters they served alongside with,” the senator’s workplace mentioned in a press release. “Many of them shared a deep friendship and emotional bond, and the withdrawal from Afghanistan was an incredibly difficult time for veterans and servicemembers as they saw their friends left behind, especially for those who were already bearing the invisible wounds of war.”

Pentagon officers have mentioned that greater than 120,000 individuals had been flown out from Afghanistan earlier than the withdrawal ended Aug. 30. Nevertheless, critics have famous that by the Biden administration’s personal admission, hundreds of American citizens and inexperienced card holders who wished to go away the nation weren’t in a position to take action.

As well as, hundreds of Afghans who aided US-led NATO forces in the course of the 20-year battle in opposition to the Taliban are believed to be stranded in hostile territory with little hope of help.

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