August 26 will mark the two-year anniversary of the horrific suicide bombing outside the Kabul airport in Afghanistan that claimed the lives of 13 U.S. military personnel – including 11 Marines, a Fleet Marine Force Navy corpsman, and an Army soldier.
Seven Gold Star family members who lost loved ones in that attack delivered powerful testimony during a public forum hosted by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) in Escondido, CA, on Monday. They paid tribute to the fallen and demanded answers from the Biden administration over the botched withdrawal.
On Tuesday’s show, Megyn was joined by Rich Lowry and Michael Brendan Dougherty of National Review to discuss what happened in Afghanistan two years ago and how President Joe Biden has betrayed the families of these servicemen and women.
The packed forum took place in the council chambers at Escondido City Hall and featured families of Camp Pendleton-based Marines who were killed the suicide bombing outside the Kabul airport. Of the 13 troops that died, 11 were from the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment assigned to Camp Pendleton. Rep. Issa’s office told the media that the event marked the first time these families had been offered an official platform to speak.
And speak they did. For some 90 minutes, Gold Star mothers and fathers shared emotional accounts of how their families have been irreparably changed and expressed frustration that they do not know more about what happened before, during, and after the attack.
Megyn called the event “remarkable” to listen to. “These parents are angry – they’re angry at the Biden administration for not taking responsibility for that withdrawal and what happened to their sons and daughters, for completely ignoring them after it happened, for not speaking their children’s names publicly, for trying to move on past this as soon as humanly possible because it was bad for Biden politically,” she said. “We listened to them and it was heart wrenching and a very stark reminder of not just what happened that day and how poorly it was handled, but how they’ve been treated.”
‘I Started Shaking’
Some of the Gold Star family members who spoke gave insight into how they were treated and continue to be treated in the aftermath of the tragedy. Cheryl Rex, mother of Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola, described what President Biden told her at the transfer ceremony when she received the body of her son:
“Myself and the other families of our 13, we’re waiting for the [plane’s] arrival to the United States when Joe Biden, our elected president, entered the room. When he approached me, his words to me were, ‘My wife, Jill, and I know how you feel. We lost our son as well and brought him home in a flag-draped coffin.’ My heart beat faster, and I started shaking, knowing that their son died from cancer and they were able to be by his side… After this encounter, I have never had any personal correspondence nor has my son been honored or his name spoken by this commander in chief or his administration… How could so many people pay their respects but nothing at all from the president of the United States on something he had conducted?”– Cheryl Rex, mother of Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola
Despite the oft-repeated line from President Biden, his oldest son Beau did not die in combat. He died at Walter Reed Medical Center in 2015 after a battle with brain cancer that may or may not have been related to burn pits that he was exposed to during his deployment supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq as a member of the Delaware Army National Guard.
Megyn called Rex’s recollection of her conversation with the president “extraordinary” given the circumstances. “[Beau] did not come home from Iraq in a flag draped casket,” she said. “Just the inappropriateness of saying that to a mother who had just lost her 19 year old over there as a result of Biden’s command [is] obvious to any thinking, feeling person.”
‘It Could Have Been Stopped’
On June 30 (the Friday before the July Fourth holiday), the State Department released what Megyn described as a “scathing” report on what transpired in Afghanistan. “They knew they had to do it, but they buried it on the Friday before a holiday weekend,” she noted. “It blamed, yes, President Trump’s administration but also the Biden administration for a precipitous decision to end the military mission there without contemplating or even considering sufficiently worst case scenarios.”
The report admitted the State Department was “hindered” by the fact that it didn’t know who was in charge when it came to evacuating Kabul. “No one understood who was in command,” Megyn said. But that didn’t stop President Biden from addressing the nation on August 31, 2021 – just five days after the attack – and calling the mission an “extraordinary success”:
“Last night in Kabul, the United States ended 20 years of war in Afghanistan, the longest war in American history… The extraordinary success of this mission was due to the incredible skill, bravery, and selfless courage in the United States military, in our diplomats, and in intelligence professionals.”– President Biden, August 31, 2021
Megyn said Biden’s remarks were a “political lie” that were “inconsiderate and heartless” toward the families that had lost loved ones – a point that was raised by Christy Shamblin, the mother-in-law of Marine Sgt. Nicole Gee, at the forum:
“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… I live every single day knowing that these deaths were preventable. My daughter could be with us today. And that wasn’t just one decision. It was many decisions, many times over. It could have been stopped. So to call it a success is an ultimate disrespect.”– Christy Shamblin, mother-in-law of Marine Sgt. Nicole Gee
Ultimately, these families are seeking a level of respect and accountability that, as Lowry pointed out, hasn’t come. “What these families want is commiseration, they want recognition for the sacrifices of their children, and they want the truth,” he concluded. “That shouldn’t be too much to ask for from the United States government.”
You can check out Megyn’s full conversation with Lowry and Dougherty by tuning in to episode 603 on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you like to listen. And don’t forget that you can catch The Megyn Kelly Show live on SiriusXM’s Triumph (channel 111) weekdays from 12pm to 2pm ET.