Chris Pool and Tony Loerzel are two Quad Cities area residents who both spent years serving in the Marine Corps. during the Afghanistan war. With America’s longest war finally coming to an end 20 years later, they’re happy to see our troops out of the war.
“I’m happy the guys are home,” said Pool, who was a recruiter for nearly a decade. “I mean, for eight years, almost eight-and-a-half years, I put kids in the Marine Corps.”
“The only silver lining I see coming from any of this is that we can move forward as a military and we can move forward as a society that is not knee-deep in a 20-year-long war,” said Loerzel, who was in Afghanistan in 2012.
However, that’s pretty much where their satisfaction ends. Pool says he’s not happy with how the exit from Afghanistan went, and the fact that there were some Americans left behind.
“The biggest thing I had a problem with is leaving people behind,” Pool said. “Leaving people behind, that’s not an American thing.”
And Loerzel agrees, saying he doesn’t like that the war is over because of retreat.
“It’s frustrating to watch all the people that served for so long have what we did almost, I hate to say it, but, tarnished, just by an exit that didn’t go [to plan],” Loerzel said. “I would hope it didn’t go according to plan,” Loerzel added, suggesting that if what happened was the plan all along, it was a bad plan.
Now, they are both trying to help fellow service members who are struggling with mental health issues after the war.
“When it comes time to help, or ask for help, it’s real, real difficult because we’re taught, ‘Shut up and color,’ or, ‘Hey, this is what I said, keep marching down the road’,” Loerzel said.
“I know I was there and I helped you get in, I helped you get through all that, and I’ll help you through this,” Pool said of the people he recruited for the Marine Corps.
Pool and Loerzel are also remembering the 13 who lost their lives in last week’s attack.
“To call them heroes is an understatement, you know?” Pool said. “They should’ve never been in that position.”
Pool added that he’s also concerned about equipment that got left behind in Afghanistan without being destroyed, and thinks it could very likely one day be used against the United States.