General McKenzie savaged over botched Afghan exit, refuses to face Marine who lost arm, leg

Rep. Cory Mills (R-FL) grilled retired Marine Corps General Kenneth Franklin McKenzie Jr. over the botched Afghanistan withdrawal that cost Sergeant Tyler Vargas-Andrews an arm and a leg.

“My only real severe issue that I’ve had as of late, General McKenzie, is that you’ve made multiple comments in the media and otherwise to the extent that a brave hero, in my opinion, who has sacrificed his limbs for this country, Sergeant Tyler Vargas-Andrews, that his recollection of the events that took place on August 26, to quote you sir, ‘that he was not recalling this correctly,'” Mills said confronting the Afghanistan commander on Tuesday during the House Foreign Affairs Committee meeting.

“Where were you on August 26, sir?” Mills asked McKenzie.

“Top floor,” the retired general responded.

Mills went on to refresh the former commander’s memory on where Vargas-Andrews was that day and what it cost him.

“Well, I can tell you where Sergeant Vargas-Andrews was and he was sitting at the gate. And I would trust on-ground information far more than someone sitting nine, ten, eleven thousand miles away who is potentially watching from ISR and potentially being briefed by the commanders on the ground, that his testimony was being corroborated by the way by multiple Marines who had testified before this committee by the events he has actually made comment on and made clear actually did take place,” Mills informed McKenzie.

And we’re fortunate enough, General McKenzie, that the gentleman who actually endured the most from this who was on the ground — the ground troops matter as we all know — is sitting right there. So, would you like the opportunity to tell Sergeant Vargas right there that he is not recalling the incidents that occurred on August 26 correctly? That he and his fellow Marines are not actually the ones who said there was a BOLO of this description? That he is incorrect in his assessment which is putting into question his integrity? Do you want to face him and tell him that before him now?” Mills demanded.

The former commander refused to even look at the sergeant who was seated right behind him and waffled on his answer.

(Video Credit: C-SPAN)

“I don’t want to face him and tell him that. I want to say the battlefield is a very complex place. There were a lot of threats that were flowing around there that day. I honor his service. I regret he was injured,” McKenzie equivocated.

“Have you spoken to him since then?” Mills asked.

“I have not spoken to him since then,” the general answered.

At that point, Mills hammered the former general for his disrespect toward Sergeant Vargas-Andrews and Gold Star families.

“So, you obviously haven’t honored him nor has anyone else even come to question him about what took place even after our committee a year ago… the bottom line…” Mills started before being interrupted by McKenzie.

“Sir, I’m still talking. Sir… General,” Mills said making it clear he intended to finish.

“The bottom line is that he deserved that respect like these Gold Star families deserve that respect. And to question his integrity? To question what took place on August 26 that he observed with his own eyes and sacrificed his limbs for, that you’re unwilling to actually face him and actually tell him the same thing that you were willing to say to MSNBC and all the rest which is that his recollection is incorrect and that there was no such thing? It’s shameful,” the congressman said excoriating the retired commander.

On that fateful day, Vargas-Andrews described the withdrawal from Afghanistan as “catastrophic.”

He remembers all too clearly the moment that a suicide bomber attacked Kabul airport’s Abbey Gate on August 26, 2021.

“A flash and a massive wave of pressure. I’m thrown 4 feet onto the ground but instantly knew what had happened. I opened my eyes to Marines dead or unconscious lying around me. A crowd of hundreds immediately vanished in front of me. And my body was catastrophically wounded with 100 to 150 ball bearings now in it,” he recounted a year ago before Congress.

“Some Afghans turned away from HKIA tried to kill themselves on the razor wire in front of us that we used as a deterrent,” the sergeant recalled according to CNN. “Countless Afghans were murdered by the Taliban 155 yards in front of our position day and night. We communicated the atrocities to our chain of command and intel assets but nothing came of it.”

“Over the communication network, we passed that there was a potential threat and an IED attack imminent. This was as serious as it could get,” Vargas-Andrews said, recalling that he asked for permission to shoot, but “our battalion commander said, and I quote, ‘I don’t know,’ end quote.”

“Myself and my team leader asked very harshly, ‘Well, who does? Because this is your responsibility, sir.’ He again replied he did not know but would find out. We received no update and never got our answer. Eventually, the individual disappeared. To this day, we believe he was a suicide bomber,” he asserted.

“Plain and simple, we were ignored. Our expertise was disregarded. No one was held accountable for our safety,” the sergeant contended.


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