Thirteen Gold Star Families want “accountability” from the Biden Administration about the 2021 U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan that killed their children. One of the families at a U.S. House Foreign Affairs Roundtable today in Washington, D.C. was the father and stepmother of U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Jared Schmitz of Wentzville.
Schmitz died on Aug. 21, 2021, after an attack at the Abbey Gate in Kabul, Afghanistan. A suicide bomber took aim at the Kabul airport – killing 170 civilians and 13 U.S. soldiers and there to help evacuate Americans and Afghan allies from the country.
The attack left 13 families, including Schmitz’s, with the title Gold Star Family. The term Gold Star Family is used for a family who has lost an immediate family member while serving in a time of conflict.
Schmitz was 20 years old and serving his first deployment when he was killed.
Mark Schmitz, Cpl. Schmitz’s father, told the committee the day before his son died, he was able to say he loved him one last time.
“After landing in Afghanistan, a few days went by before I heard from him,” said Schmitz. “When he finally had a chance to call, he told me he was at the Abbey Gate. He said he thought he was going to die there those first couple of days due to the absolute chaos. He said, ‘Dad, the look on these people’s faces was that of utter human desperation. And there’s no way that we can save them all.’”
Some memories – and nightmares – are etched into the mind of his stepmother, Jaclyn.
“In fact, Jarrett’s favorite song was Hero of War, and it blasted nonstop for nearly a year before Jared was sworn in July 8, 2019. Little did we know the song would take on a whole new meaning when we got that knock at the door at 2:40 a.m.,” she said.
During the roundtable, all 13 Gold Star families bashed the Biden Administration’s handling of the attack. They talked about “excuses” from the Biden administration and accused the commander-in-chief of lying about the details of the troop withdrawal.
“Two years have gone by and where are we? To be frank, we are knee deep in bullsh** is where we are,” said Mark Schmitz.
He said he’s done biting his tongue.
“There couldn’t be anything more disgusting and cowardly than the way you have treated us. You are a disgrace to this nation. You have no business having ultimate command over our military. And I regret not saying that to your face when I had the opportunity in Dover,” said Schmitz. “I felt it more like more important to bite my tongue. But I also had more important things on my mind at that time, like receiving my son’s lifeless body stateside. While I stood there on the tarmac watching you check your watch over and over again, all I wanted to do was shout out, ‘It’s two fu**ing thirty, a**hole.’ But out of respect to the other grieving families, I bit my tongue once again.”
Another parent wants to know why the military “ignored red flags” before the attack occurred.
Missouri Congresswoman Ann Wagner, vice chair of the committee, also participated in the Gold Star Families Roundtable.
“President Biden committed the United States to a deeply flawed and bad plan,” she said. “It was obvious from day one that the shameful flight from Afghanistan was going to be a disaster and a humanitarian tragedy.”
The White House has blamed the lack of planning by the Trump Administration for the way the troop pullout went down in Afghanistan.
In Tuesday’s roundtable, a statement from Gen. Mark Milley was read aloud. Milley said the Pentagon owes transparency to the families of those killed at Abbey Gate.
“We owe them honesty. We owe them accountability. We owe them the truth about what happened to their loved ones,” he said.
Congresswoman Madeleine Dean, D-PA, defended the Biden administration’s withdrawal, saying it was a necessary end.
“This 20-year war cost us so much,” Dean said. “We could not continue to send Americans to fight a war no longer in the Americans vital interest.”
She said decisions over multiple administrations led to the outcome in Afghanistan.
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