Today, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes sent a heartfelt letter urging President Biden to provide greater support and response to the Gold Star families whose lives were forever changed after the chaotic withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan two years ago.
On August 21, 2021, 13 U.S. service members — including Utah’s own Marine Staff Sgt. Taylor Hoover — were killed by two suicide bombings at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. Due to the sudden chaos of the evacuation, these brave men and women lost their lives feeling abandoned and confused. Now, two years later, Gold Star families are demanding answers.
During a recent congressional forum held for the Gold Star families, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif, remarked, “For almost two years, the Gold Star Families of the fallen in Afghanistan have waited for answers and accountability for the loss of their loved ones — and they have waited long enough. At every turn, they’ve been shut out and ignored by the Biden administration that prefers to turn the page on its disaster. That stops now.”
Darrin Hoover, Taylor’s father, agreed and mentioned several leaders specifically. He stated, “I’m calling out Secretary Blinken, Secretary Austin, General Milley, General McKenzie, Lieutenant Colonel Whitehead, who could not give the order to the snipers to take out the bomber before he detonated his vest,” he said. “And ultimately the President, do what our son did — be a grown … man. Admit to your mistakes, learn from them, so that this doesn’t happen ever, ever again.”
To help these families receive the answers, justice, and peace that they seek, AG Reyes demands the same. Read his complete letter below:
August 25, 2023
Dear President Biden:
Two years ago, our nation watched in horror as thirteen of our military heroes perished in Afghanistan when an explosive device detonated outside of Kabul International Airport. These men and women represented the best America had to offer, and their deaths left a tremendous hole in our nation’s collective soul.
In war, sacrifice occurs. American military personnel understand the risks when they volunteer to serve, and they realize that they may one day be called to pay the ultimate price in defense of our country’s flag and Constitution. We would not have the freedoms we enjoy today without the men and women throughout American history who have given all so that we might live in peace in our communities.
There are, unfortunately, always opportunities for political posturing after these tragedies. The aftermath of this horrific attack was a time of great uncertainty. Americans were justly outraged after blood was spilled in the name of freedom and correctly called for answers and accountability.
When these tragedies happen, it is incumbent upon the Commander in Chief to provide answers, transparency, and accountability where needed to give closure to the grieving Gold Star families and reassurance to the rest of the country that these lives were not sacrificed in vain. This should not be a partisan issue.
In the two years since this incident, many of the families of the thirteen fallen service members do not feel like they have been heard or respected. These family members will always have deep wounds, but their losses are exacerbated by, what they rightly perceive, as a complete lack of accountability and justice. The families of those service members severely injured, are also left to wonder if their sons or daughters will be exposed to a premature death due to the government’s refusal to learn and fix the lessons from Afghanistan.
President Biden, we will likely never know the weight and responsibility on your shoulders when you make life-and-death decisions with our military personnel. Our thoughts and prayers are with you, the members of your team, and those the White House sends into harm’s way. However, we ask that you meet with the Gold Star family members of the American heroes who passed away in Kabul. Please give these families an opportunity to talk to you and to hear that there will be accountability and complete transparency in the investigations surrounding the loss of their loved ones.
Thank you for your time and for your consideration of our request. We hope that your administration will come alongside these Gold Star families to give them the answers and closure they require for their healing process.
Sean D. Reyes
Utah Attorney General