Afghanistan: America’s Fallen Heroes Deserved Better

Family members of U.S. military warriors who made the ultimate sacrifice are heartbroken over Afghanistan's fall to the Taliban.

U.S. Marine Corps combat veteran Beau Wise visits the graves of his two brothers, U.S. Navy SO1 (SEAL) Jeremy Wise and U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Ben Wise, in Suffolk, Va. Both made the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan.

By Tom Sileo Published on August 16, 2021

Afghanistan has all but fallen to the Taliban.

Recent events in the war-torn country – where brave American troops have been fighting and dying for almost 20 years – are devastating to Gold Star family members I’ve been in touch with over the past few days.

“I just started crying while I was driving,” said Phyllis McGeath, who lost her son, U.S. Marine Cpl. Philip McGeath, nine years ago in Afghanistan. “It made me feel so sad that we had a possibility of losing more (U.S. service members) during this ‘rescue’ and and my heart was just breaking for my friends who have children still serving.”

It didn’t have to be this way. The terrorist takeover of the country where 9/11 was planned is a crushing blow that isn’t the fault of the brave men and women who served there, but bureaucrats in Washington who spent more time worrying about their poll numbers than our troops and their families. These politicians were enabled by the national media, which has spent years virtually ignoring America’s longest war in favor of ratings-driven “news” coverage.

The result: Afghanistan is back in the hellish hands of the Taliban, which will once again harbor terrorists and murder, kidnap, rape and enslave innocent women, children and men.

“My greatest fear is that the Taliban is now stronger than before 9/11,” said U.S. Marine Corps combat veteran Beau Wise.

The words of all Gold Star family members carry massive weight, but Beau has the tragic distinction of being the only American service member to lose two brothers in Afghanistan. His oldest brother, U.S. Navy SEAL Jeremy Wise, was killed in Afghanistan by an al-Qaeda terrorist in 2009 while working as a contractor for the CIA. Just over two years later, Beau was pulled from combat duties after the battlefield death of his second brother, U.S. Army Green Beret Ben Wise.

“Jeremy and Ben – Ben especially – never had any illusion of Afghanistan being able to sustain itself independently,” Beau told The Stream. “This day was inevitable.”

The fact that Jeremy and Ben both had serious doubts about Afghanistan’s future yet remained ready and willing to fight is a microcosm of our selfless military community. Ever since the first hijacked plane struck the World Trade Center, a new generation of valiant American patriots has been stepping forward to serve and sacrifice; no matter the cost.

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Thad Forester is a Gold Star brother and author of the book My Brother in Arms. In 2010, he lost his brother, U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Mark Forester, in Afghanistan.

“I’ll never believe what Mark did there was in vain, but our elected leaders are doing their best to undo all the good that the U.S. and coalition forces did,” Thad told The Stream. “The war was dragging on way too long, I think, but how in the world is rapidly pulling out going to help?”

Like his fellow Gold Star brother Beau, Thad had a dire warning about the consequences of irresponsible decisions made by politicians in Washington.

“It will spill back to U.S. soil,” Thad said. “(It’s) just a matter of time.”

Like so many other veterans and members of military families have been saying for months, Thad is worried about the Afghan interpreters being actively hunted down by the Taliban and other terrorist groups. One in particular helped Thad’s brother while he was deployed.

“I worry for good guys like him. He has already stated that he will be killed,” Thad said. “He’s been trying to get out of there for years. His brother was already killed by (the) Taliban.”

The most shocking set of images I saw on Sunday were contained in the video posted above. It shows prisoners walking out of a Kabul jail “after being broken out by Taliban,” according to NBC News correspondent Richard Engel. The reality of some of the world’s most evil criminals once again having free reign to terrorize Afghanistan and other countries like ours less than a month before the 20th anniversary of 9/11 is both frightening and sickening.

Once again, it didn’t have to be this way. The 2,452 Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan – including Senior Airman Mark Forester, Sgt. 1st Class Ben Wise, SO1 Jeremy Wise and Cpl. Philip McGeath – deserved better, as did their families, friends and fellow troops and veterans. Please join me in praying for them, along with the innocent Afghans now squarely in the crosshairs of emboldened al-Qaeda, ISIS and Taliban terrorists.

The anger and sadness I feel after more than a decade of getting to know our nation’s extraordinary Gold Star families, veterans and service members are nothing compared to someone who’s served or sacrificed during the war in Afghanistan. Every political leader for the past two decades – from Joe Biden and Donald Trump to Barack Obama and George W. Bush – owes you a lengthy and sincere apology.

“We will not tire, we will not falter and we will not fail,” President Bush told the country in an inspiring speech shortly after 9/11. Indeed, unlike most Beltway politicians and pundits, our nation’s courageous community of military heroes never tired or faltered – and they most certainly did not fail.

“God bless our troops still there and those being sent in to help get others out,” Thad Forester said.


Tom Sileo is a contributing senior editor of The Stream. He is co-author of Three Wise MenBrothers Forever8 Seconds of Courage and Fire in My Eyes. Follow Tom on Twitter @TSileo and The Stream at @Streamdotorg.

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