Father of St. Louis Marine killed in Afghanistan withdrawal calls new White House report ‘disgusting’

Published: Apr. 7, 2023 at 6:47 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ST. LOUIS (KMOV) -The father of LCpl. Jared Schmitz continues his search for accountability after a recent White House summary report about the 2021 withdrawal from Afghanistan placed much of the blame on former President Donald Trump.

“He has no failures because everything is Trump’s fault,” said Mark Schmitz. “I think it’s absolutely ludicrous that you would sit here and put the blame on prior administrations. I’m sure there were some handoff issues, I’m sure that happens every four years. But to put this all on Trump is just a scapegoat.”

Schmitz said he doesn’t like making the issue political but feels he has no choice after more than a year and a half with few answers and no accountability for his son’s death. He said his feelings about President Joe Biden stem from his experience at Dover Air Force base when the families arrived to receive their loved ones.

“He was looking at his watch, kept checking it to see what time it was,” he said. “He didn’t want to be there.”

The latest report only added to his frustrations.

“It’s downright disgusting,” Schmitz said. “It’s absolutely what I would expect from this administration, which is they don’t care. Our military warriors are disposable, they are literally nothing but a number. My son is gone now and nothing is going to bring him back.”

On August 26, 2021, LCpl. Schmitz, 20, died along with 12 other U.S. servicemembers and Afghan civilians when a suspected suicide bomber detonated a vest carrying 25 pounds of explosives within the crowd outside the Kabul airport.

Last month, the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations heard testimony from a Marine sniper who was severely injured in the bombing. Marine Sgt. Tyler Vargas-Andrews testified the U.S. had eyes on the suspected bomber within the crowd earlier in the day, but despite requests to shoot, Vargas-Andrews said he was told to stand down. Hours later, the bomb detonated, killing the service members standing at Abbey Gate and wounding hundreds of others.

“It’s a roller coaster ride,” said Schmitz. “I go from absolutely ticked off, to completely frustrated, to completely heartbroken. I’m sitting here watching our country fall apart right in front of our eyes.”

A year and a half after his son’s death, he says he’s gotten very few answers from the federal government surrounding the circumstances of the withdrawal and subsequent suicide bombing. Schmitz said he isn’t surprised Thursday’s 12-page summary doesn’t take accountability for any of the service member’s deaths.

“It’s clear, he [Biden] obviously doesn’t care,” he said. “To this day, publicly, he’s never said our kids’ names.”

The report acknowledges the evacuation of Americans and its allies from Afghanistan should have begun sooner but places much of the blame on U.S. military and intelligence assessments along with the Afghan government and military.

“President Biden’s choices for how to execute a withdrawal from Afghanistan were severely constrained by conditions created by his predecessor,” the White House summary states. It goes on to say when the Biden administration took over, “the Taliban were in the strongest military position that they had been in since 2001, controlling or contesting nearly half of the country.”

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the report’s purpose is not accountability but rather “understanding” what happened and using that knowledge to inform future decisions.

“Your life is completely stripped of you, that piece of you is gone forever and will never come back,” Schmitz said. “I’ll never see or hold my grandson or granddaughter of Jared’s, I will never see him walk down the aisle and get married, I will never get to see him grow up to be the man he was very quickly becoming.”