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Letter: First in, last out of Afghanistan

Just before Memorial Day weekend, our youngest son called me from Georgia.

“Dad, do you still have the American flag arm patch you wore during the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001?” he asked.

I said, “Yes, why?”

“Because I’d like to wear it, we’re leaving in a few days. Our unit will be the last ones out of Afghanistan.”

With a wave of emotions that I cannot describe, I handed him my flag while choking back tears and told him to make sure he brought it back. I am proud of his service. But then I got to thinking. I was one of the first Americans to step foot into Afghanistan after 9/11 (there was less than 100 of us).

Twenty years later … that’s 20 years later, my youngest son would be the last one out.

During that 20 years I’d go on combat patrols in Iraq with my oldest son, both of my son-in-laws would serve in Afghanistan, and now my youngest son turns out the lights on the way out (he was 2 years old when 9/11 happened).

I am a proud father, but I was also a nervous wreck over the last two months. I also got mad several times wondering, why?

Why did we have a war for 20 years?

Are we that incredibly inept?

The last two months I’ve sat outside, mostly looking down our driveway. Looking for that official government vehicle coming down our driveway bearing bad news.

Yesterday, I saw our youngest son’s truck come down the driveway … I cried anyway.

Welcome home Ranger!

— Chris Boardman

Salisbury

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