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Younger Marines in Kabul Had been Left to Run Last Days of Evacuation

Second-generation Cuban American on his dad’s facet and second-generation Mexican American on his mother’s facet, Captain Rodriguez adopted his father, who had been a Navy reservist, into the navy. He obtained his B.S. in human assets administration at California State Polytechnic College, Pomona, after which ended up at Marine Corps primary faculty in Quantico similtaneously Captain Ball, in 2013. This was his first time in Afghanistan as nicely. And, like Captain Ball, he had left a pregnant spouse at residence.

In Kabul, Captain Rodriguez discovered himself on a mission to rescue 32 Afghan feminine athletes. Jeff Phaneuf, a former Marine in Princeton, N.J., working with an American group that was attempting to evacuate the athletes, had gotten the captain’s cellphone quantity.

The athletes had been in separate teams en path to the airport or already at Abbey Gate. Captain Rodriguez pushed into the gang to seek out them.

It was like a recreation of phone with larger stakes. “It was so simple as, ‘What are they sporting?” he recalled of his texts with Mr. Phaneuf. “Then he would relate to me, ‘They’re 200 meters from the canal. They’re sporting this,’ after which, ‘They’re within the canal, they’re sporting that.’ ” And thus, over the course of 4 hours, Captain Rodriguez discovered the athletes.

Close by, different Marines had been doing the identical factor.

Again in Virginia, Lt. Col. Justin Bellman had been attempting to get his former interpreter, Walid, by way of Abbey Gate for 60 hours. Throughout one melee, Walid’s son had fallen and misplaced a shoe. Lastly, an unfamiliar quantity confirmed up on Colonel Bellman’s cellphone whereas he stood at a bus cease. The caller recognized himself as a Marine.

“Did you give an indication along with your telephone quantity on it to an Afghan at Abbey Gate?” the voice requested. “Are you able to vouch for him?”

His voice shaking, Colonel Bellman mentioned sure.

“I’ve obtained eyes on him,” the Marine mentioned. “We’re gonna pull him in.”

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