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Local veteran and Gold Star family share their thoughts on Afghanistan’s fall to the Taliban

Rockford Alderperson Jonathan Logemann says it feels surreal.
Published: Aug. 16, 2021 at 5:42 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - The Taliban takes control of Afghanistan’s Capital City, Kabul. Thousands of Afghan interpreters and others who work for the United States now fear Taliban retaliation.

“It wasn’t for nothing. None of this was for nothing,” said Gretchen Catherwood who lives in Byron. She said the recent events in Afghanistan bring back hard memories of her son, Alec, 19, who died while fighting in Afghanistan in 2011.

“His little cousin asked him why he has to go. You know, she was 10 years old at the time. She said how come you have to go? And he goes, well, I’m going so that little girls like you can go to school,” said Catherwood about Alec. “So, little girls like you have opportunities like you in this country.”

Catherwood said those opportunities are only one of the reasons the last twenty years of fighting in Afghanistan were not for nothing.

Rockford Alderperson Jonathan Logemann served in Afghanistan as an Illinois Army National Guard Captain in 2019.

“It was surreal to see all of that going in Kabul and Afghanistan over the last day, and over the last week,” said Logemann.

He’s been in Wisconsin at Fort McCoy conducting unit training. He said he’s thankful to be around fellow soldiers right now.

“It’s definitely surreal. Yeah. Some soldiers were expressing frustration or anger,” said Logemann. “You know, what were we doing there?”

He said he worries for Afghan friends who are stuck there, like interpreters he grew close with.

“As a nation, it’s our moral obligation to get those folks who stood with us in our time of need, to get them over to somewhere safe,” said Logemann.

Northern Illinois University Political Scientist Chez Thurber said the United States leaders underestimated what Afghan soldiers were willing to do. He most estimates anticipated it would take six to eighteen months for the Taliban to capture Afghanistan. He attributed the speedy timeline to Afghan soldiers fighting at the mercy of corrupt leaders, often making deals with them. Thurber said the United States pulling out was the last straw.

“They decided that this fight was not worth fighting, and that they would rather surrender or abandon the army, and hope in the process they could save their own life,” said Thurber. “The other thing is that the Taliban was very effective in cutting deals with local leaders as well as in some cases actual commanders of the military.”

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