BRISTOL, R.I. (WPRI) — The collapse of Afghanistan’s government and resurgence of the Taliban has opened old wounds for Carol McKenna, whose son died in while defending Kabul in 2015.
Sgt. Andrew McKenna Jr., a lifelong Bristol resident, joined the U.S. Army in 1998. The 35-year-old went on to become a green beret, but was killed in a Taliban-led attack.
“He was a wonderful son,” Carol said. “As I used to tell him and his brother, I loved them because they were my sons, but I liked them because they were good people.”
The fall of Kabul, especially at the hands of the same group who killed her son, is heart-wrenching for Carol.
“It’s so heartbreaking to see this … I’m very disgusted and disappointed,” she said, referencing how the United States began pulling troops out of Afghanistan months prior. “I think they should have thought things through and planned a little better before they just shut everything down.”
Rep. Jim Langevin agrees with Carol. He said those who served and are serving overseas deserved better.
“The [Biden] administration owed them a better plan than what we’re seeing unfold right now,” Langevin said. “I’m disappointed in this decision to withdraw and how it’s been handled.”
Sen. Jack Reed, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the rate at which the Taliban took over the capital was shocking and unanticipated. He was also surprised by how quickly the Afghan military surrendered.
“The expectation was that there would be a more coherent and effective resistance,” Reed said. “We spent 20 years and a lot of time and effort, but ultimately that did not succeed.”
But Carol argues everyone who served overseas. including her son, succeeded in their own right.
She said her son and those he served with wanted to avoid another devastating attack like 9/11, which is what sparked the 20-year ordeal.
“Andrew and his brothers and sisters in arms fought over there,” she said. “They also said they didn’t want [the Taliban] over here again and they wanted to keep the fight over there, as to not endanger any more Americans.”
Reed said right now, their focus is to continue to secure the Kabul airport and safely evacuate diplomatic and military personnel.