Clay County sheriff recalls work in Afghanistan as terrorist attacks take lives in Kabul

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CLAY COUNTY, Mo. — The deadly terrorist attack outside the Kabul airport in Afghanistan has many local service members and veterans reflecting.

That’s certainly true for Clay County Sheriff Will Akin, who served in the military and worked on the ground in the Middle East.

Akin said his time in the service and overseas was an escape from his life in the U.S. As a teenager, he felt there weren’t a lot of good options for him. He dropped out of high school at 16 and held odd jobs to help pay his families bills. Eventually, he got his GED as a young adult and joined the military.

He served in South Korea and became a Blackhawk helicopter pilot before coming home to work in law enforcement.

But now, Akin said with the images coming out of Afghanistan its hard to know much of what he worked toward is lost.

The streets of Afghanistan are in chaos. A country for two decades filled with hope of independence is now in the hands of the Taliban and suffering from an attack by ISIS-K.

“We can and must complete this mission, and we will,” President Joe Biden told the country Thursday, vowing that his administration will complete the evacuation of American citizens and others from Afghanistan.

After the ISIS-K attacks at the Kabul airport Thursday, at least 13 U.S. service members and dozens of Afghans were killed.

“It’s a tragedy, and this tragedy adds further to the humanitarian issue we’re dealing with in Kabul right now,” Akin said.

Akin said he knows too well. He watched the World Trade Center fall while serving in South Korea.

Akin was honorably discharged from service after a diagnosis of asthma and became a police officer. Years later he worked on the ground in Afghanistan with the military to build their police force, and now watches as Marines lose their lives.

“I feel like we achieved very little, and the reason for it is because there was zero to no interest in learning how to be police officers,” he said.

Akin said Afghanistan is traditionally run by tribes. Their mission was to form and create a government, but in the long run it wasn’t possible. He also worked to help investigators with crimes against women and families in the country. Now, women are quickly losing the basic freedoms they’ve had for nearly 20 years.

“There will be executions. There will be beatings. For the lack of a better way of describing it – illegal kidnappings. Forcing women to stay at home. You will do as I say. You won’t move without a male counterpart. Some of the worst crimes that could ever be committed – sexual assaults are going to go through the roof,” Akin said.

While the Biden Administration is vowing to even the score, Akin said there are lessons to be learned and people to help.

“I am angry at the fact that the leadership of our country will not support us taking over the situation. At least mitigating it for a specific amount of time, control the situation, get the people out that helped us, and then turn it back over,” he said.

But Akin said if there’s anything we can learn from the last 20 years of troops in Afghanistan it’s that it’s important to remember the sacrifices our troops have made for our country and for the independence of the Afghan people.

He hopes in one of the most divisive times in our country, we can once again come together as a nation and let go of the things that keep us apart.

You can watch the extended interview in the video player below.

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