September 30, 2022

8 Americans Reflect on U.S. Withdrawal From Afghanistan

2 min read

It was about to get worse.

Most of the embassy staff left Afghanistan that night or early the next day. But Mr. Wilson and about 30 other U.S. diplomats remained for two more weeks, trying to find and evacuate other U.S. citizens and permanent residents, and foreign allies, among tens of thousands of terrified Afghans just outside the airport. , requested to save them. .

“They have to make a choice: ‘Yes, you can come in,’ or ‘No, sir, you can’t come in,'” Mr. Wilson recalled of the diplomats working at the airport gate during 12-hour shifts. . Against the firing and explosions, and the constant roar of the crowd. “And you know, it’s really hard.”

“Nobody who wasn’t there can really imagine how terrifying it was,” he said.

Mr. Wilson was among the last four diplomats to leave Kabul on the last US military plane that departed shortly before midnight on August 30. The flight departed for Doha, Qatar, where he was taken to a military hospital for tests. He was told that he has corona virus. Few people wore masks during the long and grueling days at Kabul airport, but Mr. Wilson assumed they were experiencing fatigue and other symptoms from working 20-hour days for five straight weeks. The results are.

He retreated to his home outside of Minneapolis in seclusion and officially resigned from his post in late September. That part was always planning: Mr. Wilson retired from the Foreign Service in 2008 after a 30-year career as a diplomat. But he surprisingly had never served in Afghanistan before being asked to serve as chargĂ© d’affaires in January 2020 while the Trump administration and Congress battled over whether to permanently Who to send as ambassador?

“To be honest, my reaction was, they should ask other people who served there,” Mr Wilson said. But once asked, “It was my duty to do it.”

Nearly a year later, Mr. Wilson is in touch with the American diplomats who accompanied him during his final weeks in Kabul, many of whom he says are still shaken. Brutal memories have, in some cases, overshadowed the silver lining of an evacuation mission that displaced more than 124,000 people from Afghanistan.

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