Damon Gossett has memories of Afghans, many of them children, begging him to allow their families through the gates.
Gossett and the other U.S. Marines in his platoon were tasked with keeping order and protecting Abbey Gate of Kabul's Hamid Karzai International Airport during the mass evacuation of Afghanistan as the country fell into the control of the Taliban in 2021.
“Sometimes I just struggle with it; it's hard to cope with some of that stuff,” Gossett, 22, said.
Since the end of his deployment, Gossett said he has been trying to come to terms with the traumatic experiences of those 12 days in Kabul. Two years later, that journey brought him to North Texas, where in October he met some of the Afghan families he protected — a chance to see the good that he did.
Gossett said he went to Afghanistan with the hopes of helping people get to safety. By the end of his deployment to the Middle East in October 2021, however, he said he was largely left questioning his purpose there.
The hardest part of being in Kabul, Gossett said, was having to kick people out and turning them away.
“You can't do anything about it; you basically have to send them to their deaths,” he added.
Hero or Monster?
Gossett, who lives in California, was less than a year old when his father was called to be part of the first U.S. troops who invaded Afghanistan following the Sept. 11 attacks. To Gossett, it…