As RedState’s Jennifer Van Laar reported on Monday, Gold Star families gathered in Escondido, CA to share their stories as we near the anniversary of the disastrous and completely preventable Afghanistan evacuation.
Christy Shamblin, representing the family of Seargent Nicole Gee, who was famously photographed saving a baby hours before a suicide bomber took her life, spoke forcefully about what she and others had endured.
Parents of U.S. service members killed in a suicide bombing attack at Kabul Airport during the botched Afghanistan withdrawal spoke at a town hall in Escondido, CA on Monday morning that was hosted by Rep. Darrel Issa (R-CA). Nearly two years after the horrific attack, families haven’t received answers to many questions about the attack and there’s been no accountability for the failures that led to what Gold Star Mother Christy Shamblin calls the murder of her daughter and 11 others.
Other mothers took the stage to speak as well, including Cherly Rex, whose son Lance Corporal Dylan Merola was also killed in the suicide bombing. What followed was a heartbreaking, and sometimes infuriating tale of her interaction with President Joe Biden following the tragic events of that day.
Cheryl Rex, mother of Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola:
“When [Biden] approached me, his words to me were, ‘My wife, Jill & I, know how you feel. We lost our son as well and brought him home in a flag draped coffin.'”
“My heart started beating faster & I started shaking, knowing that… pic.twitter.com/lLMRokjEdY
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) August 7, 2023
REX: When Joe Biden, our elected president, entered the room, when he approached me, his words to me were, “My wife Jill and I know how you feel. We lost our son as well, and brought him home in a flag-draped coffin.”
My heart started beating faster and I started shaking, knowing that their son died from cancer and they were able to be by his side. Also, wondering how someone could honestly (tears up and pauses), sorry, be so heartless to say he knew how I felt a little over 24 hours of learning of my son’s death.
After this encounter, I have never had any personal correspondence nor has my son been honored or his name spoken by this Command and Chief or his administration, on what I feel is because of their failures and poor planning to exit our troops from Afghanistan.
These are always the hardest stories to write. While Dylan’s mother was fighting back tears during her speech, I was fighting back my own watching her give it. You can sense the weight she’s carrying while at the same time understanding that you could never begin to truly know what she feels. The heartbreak of losing a son so suddenly, in what was such a senseless operation, is not something that ever leaves a person.
That’s not to say that Dylan didn’t die a hero because he did, but it is to say that he died because certain politicians wanted their names to be heralded in the press, chief among them Joe Biden. The current president rushed through an ill-advised plan to withdraw from Afghanistan because he wanted political credit for doing so. The servicemembers involved did their duty. Their Command and Chief did not. That reality is one that clearly haunts Cheryl Rex and the other parents who suffered such an incredible loss as a result.
Listening to her share what Biden said to her is as heartbreaking as it is infuriating. To walk up to her and say “I know how you feel” while proceeding to lie about his own son’s death is unconscionable. Cancer is tragic, but it is not dying at the hands of a suicide bomber because of decisions that selfish politicians made, and when someone states their son was “brought home” in a “flag-draped coffin,” that is a clear assertion that their son died in combat. Beau Biden did not die in combat, and his father’s continued disinformation over the matter is grotesque.
I’m left astonished at the callousness of it all. Nothing about the president’s demeanor during the dignified transfer in 2021, where he checked his watch instead of standing at attention, showed a man who actually cared about what he had caused. Certainly, Cheryl Rex’s story doesn’t disprove that notion.
This is not a topic I take lightly. I questioned whether to even write this story because the last thing I want to see is a tragedy turned into a partisan matter. It’s not these Gold Star parents that are doing that, though. They deserved so much better than being subjected to patronizing falsehoods from the man who visited upon them such unspeakable pain. That they didn’t get it is shameful.