‘Mixed emotions’: New Jersey veterans react to chaos unfolding in Afghanistan

United States military veterans from New Jersey are watching as the Taliban regain control of Afghanistan, undoing decades of progress that many of these veterans fought for.

News 12 Staff

Aug 16, 2021, 9:47 AM

Updated 980 days ago

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United States military veterans from New Jersey are watching as the Taliban regain control of Afghanistan, undoing decades of progress that many of these veterans fought for.
Many of the veterans say that they were motivated to enlist in the military following the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001. The terrorist attack sparked a 20-year war in Afghanistan.
The Biden administration ordered American troops to withdraw from the country. Within a matter of days, the Taliban once again rule the streets of Kabul.
Commercial flights were suspended at Hamid Karzai International Airport, as the United States military works to maintain its last stronghold bringing home Americans and allies still left.
Sgt. John Roth served in the Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan over a decade ago. He is one of many veterans from New Jersey who watch the chaos unfold.
"Kandahar, which that's where I served for them, to over to Kandahar within a day, was like a punch in the gut. That's how I felt. Anger. There's mixed emotions going on,” Roth says.
Will Sheehan, a former Seal TEAM intelligence officer and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, says that he expects 20 years of progress will be undone in six months.
"My belief and a lot of veterans believe, you're going to go back 20 years pre-9/11. And the reason for that, we were taking half measures, in my opinion, when we should've been taken for throat and measures."
As the president tells the country he does not regret the withdrawal of American troops, Roth and Sheehan say their service and the service of many other Americans in Afghanistan was worth it.
"It was worth it and everything you've done is worth it. When people want to say, ‘Well what did you risk your life for?’ It's for the freedom and everything else that we stand for,” says Roth.
"They need to know that what they did matter. The veterans, the Gold Star families. They were on the right side of history, and Americans love them for their service and sacrifice,” says Sheehan.
Roth and Sheehan say that they hope the United States learns from the mistakes made in Afghanistan, and they emphasize that the country gives additional support to the allies within who helped during the war who are still currently left behind.


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