U.S. Marine wounded in Kabul assault provides eyewitness account

U.S. Marine Main Ben Sutphen was simply 15 ft away when a suicide bomber detonated a bomb final month close to an entrance to the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul.

The Marines had been warned an assault was coming and had a bodily description of the suspected bomber, however within the crush of humanity exterior the airport, they had been unable to identify him. The explosion killed 13 U.S. service members and over 100 Afghans, and wounded a minimum of 15 American service members, together with Sutphen.

“We introduced a truck with a loudspeaker right down to attempt to disperse the group. I used to be standing proper by that truck when it occurred,” Sutphen mentioned.

“The truck shielded you?” requested CBS Information’ David Martin.

“I might say so,” Sutphen replied.

After the suicide bomber detonated his vest, gunmen opened fireplace from a close-by roof. Sutphen described the actions of 1 marine corporal.

“He is blown off his ft and nonetheless has his wits about him. Shot by the shoulder. Instantly recovers his weapon and places the opposing gunmen down,” he mentioned.

“If that they had simply opened fireplace with out you firing again, what would have occurred?” Martin requested.

“Definitely, many extra Marine and civilian lives would have been misplaced,” Sutphen replied.

Sutphen mentioned “one other corporal with substantial blast accidents to his lungs and inside organs” nonetheless had “sufficient grit and braveness at, susceptible to his personal life to pull one other injured Marine out of hurt’s means.” 

The assault occurred about 300 yards from Abbey Gate, one of many most important entrances to the airport. The Marines had arrange a hall between Abbey Gate and the Baron Lodge, the place British troops had been situated. On the day of the assault, Abbey Gate was the one means into the airport.

“The opposite two gates had been closed for some time, so what was taking place is everybody, it appeared like town, converging on Abbey Gate,” mentioned Sutphen.

Regardless of intelligence warnings of an imminent assault by the terrorist group generally known as ISIS-Ok, Abbey Gate stayed open so British troops on the lodge might return to the airport.

“The day of the assault we, we had gotten in all probability probably the most direct indications of, of a menace on the Abbey Gate and a person to look out for, so we made certain that that info was handed to our Marine snipers and the Marines on location,” recalled Sutphen.

“How troublesome would it not be to select one one who you, who you’ve gotten the outline of,” Martin requested.

“I’d say subsequent to unattainable in, in crowds of hundreds, tightly packed, shoulder to shoulder chest to chest. I imply, this was a really dense crowd,” Sutphen replied.

Sutphen, who was the operations officer of his battalion, mentioned the Marines took each attainable precaution.

“Armed aerial surveillance overhead on the time. We had digital countermeasures for improvised explosive gadget all alongside the hall that will attempt to get rid of any, , electronically triggered gadget,” he mentioned.

However the suicide bomber was not detected, and the carnage was horrific. An estimated 170 Afghan civilians had been killed. The airport went into mourning because the useless People had been despatched dwelling with honors. Sutphen mentioned there wasn’t so much that would have been carried out to alter the scenario.

“I am certain you’ve got requested your self this. Looking back, what would you’ve gotten carried out otherwise?” Martin requested.

“The mission was evacuating people. Now we have to maintain that street open. There was not so much we might change about that scenario. It was the mission, and we executed it,” he mentioned.

The mission was going to be the final for the Marines. Abbey Gate was scheduled to be closed that night, and the Marines of Suthpen’s battalion had been speculated to return to the airport and board planes for the flight out.

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