August 15th will mark the one-year anniversary of the fall of Kabul to the Taliban who, on that day, marched into the capital unopposed and took control of the government, the capital, and the country of Afghanistan. It is a day that I will never forget.
Prior to this day, I had been working with my Congressman, Mark Takano (D-CA 41st District), to get Afghan Nationals, who had worked as interpreters for my command in 2011, the Afghan National Army Special Operations Advisory Group(ANASOAG), out of Afghanistan, along with their family members, via the US State Department Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program. The Congressman and I had started working on this in 2015 after I had returned from my second tour in Afghanistan and up to August 2021, we had succeeded in getting six of them out along with their family members. We had five former interpreters in the pipeline when the US pulled completely out of Afghanistan on 31 August. Several of these five tried to get out via the Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA) but were turned back several times by the Taliban who had been given permission to control all the entry points to HKIA. Because of this, many of the Taliban manning these entry points turned back ANYONE who was found to have documents showing that they worked or the US government/US military.
At the same time, they let through many people who had NO connection to the US government/US military whatsoever (This is why so many Afghans ended up in the US and US government officials had NO idea who these people were). Not only did the Taliban turn back Afghans who should have been allowed in because of their connections to the US government/US military but they also physically attacked many of these people at the entry points. One of the five Afghans we had been trying to get out via the SIV process was severely beaten on his last attempt to gain access to HKIA. Taliban control of the entry points to HKIA was one of the reasons why so many Afghans in the SIV process were left behind and it was one of the reasons why 13 US servicemembers were killed by a suicide bomber on 26 August 2021.