ESCONDIDO, Calif. — Several Gold Star families of U.S. troops killed in the 2021 Kabul airport bombing spoke at a public forum Monday in Escondido.
Families representing six of the 13 servicemembers killed nearly two years ago in the suicide bombing at the airport during the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan gave emotional testimony.
“To say it’s time to move on and there’s nothing more to be said, as to the planning and the execution of how our country wrapped a two-decade war, is an insult to all of us,” said Alicia Lopez, mother of Marine Cpl. Hunter Lopez.
Families testified during a public forum at City Hall in Escondido, organized by Congressman Darrell Issa.
“One of the questions, of course, is did they have to die?” Issa asked during the forum.
Families expressed pain and anger over the U.S. evacuation and the bombing that killed 11 Marines — many of those from Camp Pendleton — along with a Navy sailor and an Army soldier. More than 150 civilians also died in the attack.
Families say they have hit a brick wall trying to get answers about what went wrong at the airport. They held nothing back, directing their frustration at military officials and the Biden administration.
“Do what our son did — be a grown a** man, admit your mistakes, learn from them so that this doesn’t happen ever, ever again. You all need to resign immediately. Our sons and daughters have more integrity in their little toes than every one of them combined,” said Darin Hoover, father of Marine Sgt. Taylor Hoover.
“When our leaders, including the Secretary of Defense and our commander-in-chief called this evacuation a success, as if there should be celebration, it is like a knife in the heart for our families and for the people who came back and for every service member that served over this 20-year war,” said Christy Shamblin, mother in-law of Marine Sgt. Nicole Gee.
Issa said the forum is a reminder questions still need to be answered.
“We didn’t want to make this political, even though some of the family members had things to say that might have sounded political,” Issa said to FOX 5. “It’s their words — we wrote no scripts and we didn’t want that. And so by doing it here, I think we made it more about the families and about what Gold Star families face.”