YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – First News reached out to Youngstown-area veterans of the War in Afghanistan willing to talk about what’s happening. All but one agreed to talk, but their opinions varied about the situation.
“It’s pretty emotional for me to be honest with you,” said Patrick Witt, a former Army medic.
Friends Patrick Witt and Matthew Dermotta stood together Monday afternoon in Hubbard and talked about the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.
Witt was an Army medic there. Dermotta was a Marine tank crewman.
“It hurts because a lot of friends and family, a lot of my friends and family were lost over there,” Witt said.
“It hurts inside and stuff like that. It bums you out, but there’s nothing you can do about it,” Dermotta said. “Move on.”
“We gave them the best chance to possibly stand on their own two feet and they couldn’t,” said Jim Romeo.
Romeo was a combat engineer in charge of explosives. At the Struthers AMVETS, he said the Taliban was just waiting for the United State to leave.
“They were never going to with their full might when we were there because they couldn’t. They would have been slaughtered. To wait for us to leave, innocent people being left behind, the small element of Americans that are still there, that was the only chance they had to mount any type of offensive toward us,” Romeo said.
“This wasn’t a well-thought-out withdrawal, to say we’re going to just withdraw period,” said James Dignan.
Dignan was a former commander of the Youngstown Air Reserve Station who flew in and out of Afghanistan. He says we should have kept a presence to maintain what we gained.
“Like keep the base in Bagram. Keep a significant contingent in Kabul to maintain the safety and security of our embassy and our diplomatic personnel and our businesses who want to do business there,” he said.
Witt agreed that some military presence should have remained.
“It was about stabilizing a government and making it function, not maybe to the U.S. standard but to at least what we had going on,” Witt said.
When asked if he was OK with the U.S. military pulling out of Afghanistan, he thought about it, paused, then answered, “It needed to be done.”