US Marines Whose Comrades Died Defending Kabul Airport Return Home | Top news
CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (Reuters) – U.S. Marines who had been deployed to Afghanistan reached home base Sunday, hugging their families after the combat deaths of nine Marines from their battalion who failed to to recover.
Marines from the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment were on duty outside Kabul airport on August 26 when a suicide bomber detonated explosives, killing at least 13 US servicemen and dozens of Afghans.
Nine Marines from the so-called 2/1 and a Navy sailor also based at Camp Pendleton were among the 13 killed. Two other Marines and an Army soldier also died.
The dead were from a separate company of the 282 Marines who returned Sunday to Camp Pendleton, the largest marine base on the West Coast, about 40 miles north of San Diego.
The Marine Corps did not give reporters full access to speak with returning Marines and their families, although some spoke briefly to the media.
“We came from Mississippi to see him,” Allen Frazier, a retired Marine, said of his son, Corporal Jeffrey Frazier.
Frazier declined to comment on the end of the mission in Afghanistan, saying, “I’m just here to see my son.”
(For a profile of some of the deceased click on: https://www.reuters.com/world/us/us-marine-killed-afghanistan-blast-was-newlywed-wyoming-2021-08-27)
The Marines were killed less than 10 days after the Taliban took Kabul and control of Afghanistan, a surprisingly swift takeover as US forces retreated from nearly 20 years of war.
The Marines had attempted to protect the airport, screening people and searching for weapons during a chaotic US airlift that ultimately pulled 124,000 people out of the country, including US citizens, Afghans who aided the American war effort and their families.
Scott Wiles, 58, was part of the motorcycle escort who accompanied the Marines for the last 50 kilometers (80 km) of their return trip, saying it was important to support returning veterans, especially with suicide so common among them.
His group, the Patriot Guard Riders, aims to cheer them up with fanfare.
“It’s a dark time for them. They’ve lost some of their teammates… people who they’ve trained with, who they’ve lodged with and deployed with,” Wiles said. “And if we can be that bright spot… and they don’t descend into that dark hole, that’s why we’re here.”
(Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Daniel Wallis)
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