President Joe Biden landed Sunday morning at the Dover military base, in the state of Delaware, to witness for the first time the arrival in the United States of fallen soldiers in his mandate. Biden, along with first lady Jill Biden, met with the families of the 13 servicemen who died after the suicide bombing at the Kabul airport on Thursday. Among the dead, two of them women, were 11 marines, a naval doctor and a Navy soldier. Most of them made the trip to Afghanistan from Camp Pendleton, the main training base for the marines on the west coast.
The president and the first lady, Jill Biden, greeted solemnly as a group of soldiers transferred from an Army cargo plane the coffins wrapped in the United States flag of each of the soldiers killed in the attack perpetrated by a suicide bomber. of ISIS-Khorasan, the armed wing of the Islamic State in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Biden, who was wearing a black suit and tie, had not witnessed such a ceremony since November 2016, when as vice president he traveled to the same air base to witness the arrival of the remains of Tyler Iubelt, another young man killed at the military base in Bagram. On Saturday, the president called the fallen in Kabul “heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service of the highest American ideals.” They are the first Americans to be killed abroad since March 2020, a fact that has drawn harsh criticism from the Administration.
Sgt. Nicole Gee, 23, of California, and 25-year-old Navy member Rosario Pichardo were among the casualties. The soldiers were in charge of checking the women and children who arrived at the Kabul airport in the hope of leaving the country. Most of the soldiers killed in the attack with 170 victims were in their twenties from different states and origins. Five soldiers were 20 years old, not enough to order a beer in a bar in their country. They were Californians Dylan Medina; David Espinoza, from Río Bravo (Texas); Jared Schmitz from San Carlos, Missouri and Rylee McCollum from Jackson, Wyoming. The rest of the victims were Darin Hoover, 31; Hunter Lopez, 22; Daegan Page, 23; Humberto Sánchez, 22; Maxton Soviak, 22, and Ryan Knauss, 23.
Mitch McConnell, the Republican Majority Leader in the Senate, on Sunday called the troop withdrawal “one of the worst foreign policy decisions in US history.” “Much worse than Saigon,” he said in an interview on conservative Fox News, referring to the disastrous epilogue of the US military in Vietnam in April 1975. Other lawmakers from the same party believe that the president lacked an evacuation plan and they have criticized the Administration for sharing the names of US citizens and Afghans with residence permits with the Taliban charged with policing the security perimeter of Hamid Karzai airport.
The White House has reported this Sunday that it evacuated 2,900 people from Kabul between the early hours of Saturday and three in the morning of Sunday. Some 2,200 left the country on 32 military flights and 700 more on trips coordinated by US allies. In this way, Washington was rushing the last hours before the end of the deadline that was imposed for the departure of the troops from Afghanistan, this Tuesday, August 31. In the last two weeks, after Biden’s chaotic departure, US forces have evacuated nearly 120,000 people, including Americans and Afghans. The State Department has reported that there are still 250 people who have asked to leave the country and are awaiting their departure in the next few hours.