Valley veteran displeased with US evacuation plan in Afghanistan

Aug 26, 2021, 4:45 AM | Updated: 6:24 am

(Photo courtesy of Kyle Uptergrove)...

(Photo courtesy of Kyle Uptergrove)

(Photo courtesy of Kyle Uptergrove)

PHOENIX — The images of the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan have been difficult to see for some in the country, including for one Valley veteran that served two tours in the Middle East.

Kyle Uptergrove served in Afghanistan in 2010 and 2012, spending a total of 14 months with his boots on the ground fighting the Taliban and protecting the people of Afghanistan.

Today, the Marine feels angry and wants the U.S. government to take responsibility for what is now unfolding in the country.

“It’s wrong, I felt like we abandoned what we were doing,” Uptergrove told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Tuesday.

Although he agrees with the withdrawal of U.S. troops, Uptergrove believes the Biden administration botched the execution as thousands remain stranded in the country where the Taliban now have control.

“I agree, no Americans should die over there, but to just outright leave?” Uptergrove said.

As a father, he compared the U.S. government’s recent actions in Afghanistan to someone abandoning their children.

He believes America has a sense of responsibility to uphold after invading the country and supporting it for the past 20 years.

Uptergrove would like to see a military installation constructed in Afghanistan similar to what the U.S. has left behind in countries like Germany and Japan.

Although he believes a military force isn’t necessary, he does think the presence of American troops can ensure safety.

“I have friends who are interpreters and were threatened or are threatened or have been killed by Taliban or their family members were killed by Taliban,” Uptergrove said.

He questions the government’s handling of the exit in Afghanistan and he doesn’t understand how or why the staggering costs of U.S. military equipment could be left behind for the same terrorists he once fought in combat.

Despite the anger he feels and the lack of trust he has in the U.S. government, Uptergrove wants people to know that he believes this is the greatest country in the world.

“I love my country and regardless of this, I still love my country and that’s something that I will do until the day I die,” he said.

Uptergrove described the Afghan refugees fleeing like Jewish people that were hunted by the Nazis during World War II.

With his firsthand accounts with people in the country, he feels hopeless for the ones left behind.

“I remember giving children on patrols candy, you know they would sit and walk with us on patrol and talk to us and laugh and giggle and do little jokes. Those are things that I want people to think of… is those kids,” Uptergrove said.

“Those kids now are preteens and adults and they’re the ones that are trying to run away because they know what’s happening, they know what’s going on.”

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Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

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Valley veteran displeased with US evacuation plan in Afghanistan