“I think about the things I saw and did there every single day. We were forced to escort people out who didn’t have the proper documents. Some of them had no business being there and made fake documents to try and sneak through so it was no problem tossing them out. But some of these people were people who had been supporting our military since the very beginning of the war.

I remember there was a man who had brought his very old grandparents with him and him screaming at me that I couldn’t throw them out because they would be killed. I realized that nothing I said would justify the fact that this man had been risking his life for our military since I was 2 and now my scrawny 22 year old ass was the one sending him to die.

There was another time where there was a kid, about twelve years old, who had his brother with him. His brother was probably about 8. I was on the outside perimeter by the canal where we would pull the people out of. My job was to send people with the right documents through and escort those who didn’t out. This kid and his brother were on their own and they had been sent back out for me to remove. I can still remember every feature of him.

I remember his bloodshot eyes with tears streaming down his face and him grabbing at my sleeves saying ‘Please, my family, my family, please!’ He was resisting me and I had to shove him along to the barrier that separated us from the people. His brother was behind him, I don’t think he understood what was happening. I’m sure this kid saw me as horrible person but I don’t think he understood that I saw myself as a horrible person as I was sending him and his brother to die.

When I got home, there were signs in Horno that said ‘Heroes’ and similar things and my family was telling me that I should be proud of the people I did save. But I never think about those people. I think about the people I didn’t save, or the people that are dead because of me.”
– Anonymous US Marine. 2/1 Golf Co. Kabul Afghanistan, 2021.

Documented by Nicholas Laidlaw Every soldier has a story, and every story deserves to be told.