The families of the 13 soldiers who were needlessly killed in Afghanistan by a suicide bomber are publicly sharing their anger and grief as they begin to process their loss. 20 soldiers were also wounded in the attack on Aug. 26. The U.S. military flew its last plane out of Afghanistan on Monday, evacuating 122,000 people, 5,400 of whom were Americans.
President Biden spoke via teleconference about America’s “longest war,” calling the mission to evacuate “extraordinarily successful.”
USA Today reports that the Taliban marked their victory as they walked across the Kabul airport runway.
“The world should have learned their lesson, and this is the enjoyable moment of victory,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a Livestream posted by a militant, according to the Associated Press.
Many Americans perceive the current administration as both tone-deaf and inept. Some families of the soldiers who were killed are now speaking up. One of the fathers, Mark Schmitz, who lost his son, Marine Lance Corporal Jared Schmitz, says his recent meeting with Biden did not go well:
Mark Schmitz, father of fallen Marine Lance Corporal Jared Schmitz to Fox on his meeting with POTUS over the weekend: “It didn’t go well. He talked a bit more about his own son than he did my son and that didn’t sit well with me.”
— Pat Ward (@WardDPatrick) August 31, 2021
During the dignified transfer of the fallen soldiers in their flag-draped caskets,—the masked Biden checked his watch. The average age of the soldiers, two of whom were women, was 20-years-old. Some were not even born when 2,977 Americans died on 9/11, the event that would trigger our presence in Central Asia.
Looks like he was being inconvenienced by having to show some respect for these American Heros. https://t.co/omAs3CIqjj
— Samuel Williams (@votesamuelwill1) August 29, 2021
“Yes, I did,” Schmitz said. “I actually leaned into my son’s mother’s ear, and I said, ‘I swear to God if he checks his watch one more time’—and that was only probably four times in. I couldn’t look at him anymore after that.”
Darin Hoover, the father of 31-year-old Staff Sgt. Darin Taylor Hoover Jr., a Marine, confirmed that he saw Biden check his watch multiple times:
“That didn’t happen just once. It happened on every single one that came out of that airplane. It happened on every single one of them. They would release the salute, and he would look down at his watch on every last one, all 13, he looked down at his watch,” he said.
“As a father, you know, seeing that and the disrespect, and hearing from [his son’s] former leaders, one of his master sergeants said that this was avoidable, that they left them over there. They had them over there and let them down, and that—we can’t have that. It can’t happen ever again.”
Hoover said he couldn’t bear to meet with Biden.
“We said absolutely not. We didn’t want to deal with him; we didn’t want—we didn’t want him anywhere near us. We as a family decided that that was the way it was going to be,” Hoover said.
American flags have been placed outside the Hoover family home, as well as several in the neighborhood. Staff Sgt. Hoover’s father agreed to do an interview with me. He said he wants people to know who his son is and how much he loved serving our country 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/0DEhtutS4i
— Alex Cabrero (@KSL_AlexCabrero) August 28, 2021
Steve Nikoui, the father of fallen soldier Marine Corps. Lance Cpl. Kareem M. Nikoui says the Biden administration turned its back on these young soldiers. Nikoui was only 20 years old, born in 2001 when America first went into Afghanistan.
“They sent my son over there as a paper pusher and then had the Taliban outside providing security,” said Nikoui. “I blame my own military leaders. Biden turned his back on him. That’s it.”
“I’m really disappointed in the way that the president has handled this, even more so the way the military has handled it. The commanders on the ground should have recognized this threat and addressed it,” Nikoui said.
Nikoui’s mother wrote this post on social media. She was suspended from Instagram and then reinstated. Instagram said it was a mistake.
During a live call into a radio show, a distraught mother, Kathy McCullum, told host Andrew Wilcow that Biden is a “feckless, dementia-ridden piece of crap” who murdered her son. Her son, 20-year-old Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum “died in vain.” She said he chose to be a marine sniper.
“She (Jen Psaki) said my son didn’t die in vain. But guess what, my son did die in vain. This was an unnecessary debacle that could have been handled properly,” the Gold Star mom explained. “They had months and months to remove everyone from Afghanistan, and they chose not to. And so they sent in . . . 6,000 troops, and my son, through the laws of statistics, my son was one of the ones who just got blown up in a freaking terrorist bomb yesterday.”
McCullum’s phone call can be heard below:
Two weeks ago, 20-year-old Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum was transferred to Afghanistan.
He was 20 years old and was going to be a father next month. He died in the suicide bombing.
Listen to his mom's call with Andrew Wilkow yesterday. It is truly heartbreaking. pic.twitter.com/WRo3kxhelL
— Errol Webber (@ErrolWebber) August 28, 2021
Rylee McCollum’s sister, Roice, and her father traveled to D.C. with Jiennah McCullum, Rylee’s wife. Roice told the Washington Post that she and her Dad rejected a meeting with the President. However, Jiennah agreed to meet with him.
After her meeting, Jiennah relayed to the Roice that Biden talked mostly about his son and showed little sympathy for her grieving family. Roice told the Washinton Post, Biden showed a “total disregard to the loss of our Marine. You can’t f— up as bad as he did and say you’re sorry,” she said. “This did not need to happen, and every life is on his hands.”
Paula Knauss lost her son, Ryan Knauss, of Knoxville, TN. She watched the Dover Air Base ceremony on TV from Florida. She told the Washington Post she felt a “floodgate of emotions” and she was disappointed in the “lack of leadership” from the administration:
“You can’t have a hasty withdrawal after 20 years of war,” she said. “Because it’s beyond me. It disgraces the name of all those who have fought in the past and who are now on the ground, foreign ground fighting right now, my son’s [82nd] Airborne is still there, and they deserve to be protected.”
Ryan’s wife and her mother attended the ceremony in person.
Many of the families have declined to comment on their sons’ and daughters’ deaths. Some have not made themselves available.