CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — History is playing out on television as the Taliban tightens its grip on Afghanistan.
The country’s collapse is happening as the U.S. scrambles to evacuate thousands of Americans and Afghan allies. The events unfolding on the other side of the world hit close to home for one local veteran.
“It feels like we went over there for one thing and now they're just saying 'alright, we're giving up,’” said Jacob Parks.
Parks knows he's not the only one who feels this way. He was a 19-year-old Marine, just a few months out of training, when he was sent to Afghanistan in 2002.
Flying as a door gunner on a CH-46 Sea Knight, Parks saw first hand, the cost of war.
“We saw the aftermath of all the ambushes,” said Parks. ”We were the ones who had to load up the back of the helicopters and fly everyone to get MEDEVACed out.”
Parks also served in Iraq, spending four tours in the two war zones. The mental scars of PTSD are eased somewhat by his service dog C.J. Those wounds, however, have been reopened by the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
“Everything that we've fought for is just given up in less than a week,” said Parks.
Parks calls images coming from Afghanistan of the Taliban re-claiming that country "upsetting”, but not nearly as upset he imagines, as the feelings gold star families have seeing them.
Parks’ thoughts are with those families and with the Afghan civilians who worked with U.S. forces, and what the Taliban may have planned for them.
“They're not very lenient with anyone who's helped the enemy,” said Parks. “We were the enemy, we were working on their bases, so we've directly put every one of them in danger.”