Families of fallen marines speak out nearly two years after deadly Afghanistan bombing

Aug 9, 2023, 2:00 PM

A framed picture of slain U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Taylor Hoover hangs next to an American flag....

A framed picture of slain U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Taylor Hoover hangs next to an American flag on the wall of Kakaie's North Salt Lake home on Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021. Hoover, who was from Utah, was killed in a suicide bombing at the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Aug. 26, about 30 minutes after helping Kakaie's family through the gate. (Rob Langhammer/Deseret News)

(Rob Langhammer/Deseret News)

ESCONDIDO, California— Family members of a fallen marine from Utah and other service members are speaking out, nearly two years since a suicide bombing killed 13 U.S. service members at the then-Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan in late-August 2021.

Salt Lake City-native Staff Sgt. Darin “Taylor” Hoover Jr. was among the 13 service members killed, during a frantic and controversially-executed withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, after U.S. leaders opted to end the 20-year war.

U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) organized the first congressional forum for the 13 gold star families, giving some of them their first chance to speak since the disaster.

Kelly Barnett, the mother of the fallen marine, was the first to take the podium in California on Monday.

She said her son, who had previously been deployed to Afghanistan twice, said the third time was unlike anything he’d seen before.

“My son … these twelve others left this Earth thinking their command cared nothing for them,” Barnett said.

Barnett continued and said that Hoover and the other troops were commanded to clean up the airport after they were commanded to destroy everything.

“What kind of disrespect … hatred for our military,” Barnett said between tears. “Lost, angry, sad, heartbroken, and disgusted…these are the feelings the service members felt … these are the feelings I’m feeling.”

“We were told lies … given incomplete reports, incorrect reports … total disrespect,” Barnett said.

Barnett continued, “I was told to my face he died on impact, that’s not true.” She said witnesses told her that Hoover was wounded, applied a tourniquet around his leg, and gave out his ammo before he died.

“I was lied to, and basically told to ‘shut up’ because that’s the way it was,” Barnett said.

Hoover’s father, Darin Hoover took the stand second and voiced similar outrage for how U.S. leaders handled the withdrawal.

“With all of these generals having approximately 90 years of experience combined, and to come up with the plan they attempted to carry out, is despicable,” Hoover said.

“I’m calling out Secretary Blinken, Secretary Austen, General Millie, General McKenzie, Lt. Colonel Whitehead, who could not give the order to the snipers to take out the bomber … and ultimately the president,” Hoover said.

“Do what our son did, be a grown (expletive) man … so that this doesn’t happen ever again,” Hoover said. “You all need to resign immediately.”

Barnett ended her statement by speaking of the service members who died, “they deserve justice.”

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Families of fallen marines speak out nearly two years after deadly Afghanistan bombing