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Idaho veteran says the conflict in Afghanistan is not over

Posted at 3:37 PM, Sep 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-01 17:43:46-04

MAGIC VALLEY — The last U.S. military evacuation flight departed Afghanistan earlier this week, marking the end of a 20-year long war, the longest in U.S. history. But Robert Holmes, a local veteran, believes although the last evacuation flight departed, the war is far from over.

“It’s hard. I think it’s hard for us that served over there. I think it’s even harder that even though we are calling it an end to war, we know that it’s not going to be the end. I mean they’re saying that something is going to happen, and something is going to happen at some point, and it’s possibly going to bring us back in again," Holmes said.

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Holmes, who is now retired, served in the U.S. Marines for 23 years. Some of that time was spent in Afghanistan where he worked with Afghan interpreters and advisors, with who he still keeps in contact. He says these past couple of weeks have not only been hard on them but their families as well.

“Their families are stuck there. They’ve been trying to get their families over since 2011. So you’re talking years that those families have been stuck in Afghanistan not able to get out,” Holmes said.

During his time in Afghanistan, Holmes built relationships with Afghan soldiers and border police.

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“Probably a few of those guys told us, we’re not going to let anything happen to you guys. They told us I will give my life to make sure nothing happens to you, and I believed them," Holmes said.

This is why when he learned the U.S. pulled troops from Afghanistan, Holmes says he thought back to the people he met.

“As a country, I felt like yeah we did kind of turn our back on them, we just kind of left them hanging out to dry when you think about it," Holmes said.

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Holmes says he was also surprised to learn the U.S. was making that decision.

“To be honest with you, I thought we would never completely leave Afghanistan. I thought there would always be some kind of presence there since they are our allies now,” Holmes said.

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After videos surfaced of Afghans desperately trying to flee the country, Holmes says watching the events unfold and not being able to do anything was hard, especially as a veteran.

“It’s very disheartening and just so sad to see. It crushes my soul to see everything we’ve done with those Afghan people completely just gone now," Holmes said.