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Families of Hawaii’s fallen disappointed over how U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan is unfolding

Published: Aug. 18, 2021 at 10:01 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 19, 2021 at 7:37 AM HST
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AIEA (HawaiiNewsNow) - Nearly 2,500 American service members have died in Afghanistan, including about a dozen Hawaii residents.

Army 1st Lt. Jonathan Brostrom of Aiea was one of them. He was killed in an enemy attack during the Battle of Wanat in 2008.

His father believes that soldiers like his son didn’t get enough support from the U.S. government, stretching through four presidential administrations from George W. Bush to Joe Biden.

“We just thought we could beat the Taliban with small numbers of soldiers and a lack of resources. And it didn’t happen,” said David Brostrom in his Aiea home, filled with remembrances of Jonathan.

“He was proud to be serving his country, and he loved the Army.”

Jonathan Brostrom graduated from Damien Memorial School in 2002, and the University of Hawaii at Manoa in 2006. He was just 24 years old when he and eight other soldiers were killed after their outpost was attacked.

David Brostrom is now watching with disappointment at the American troop withdrawal and the return of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

“Because my son died and because we made that sacrifice, it was just heartbreaking,” he said. “But it’s also very embarrassing for the U.S. for this to happen.”

Brostrom believes American troops should have stayed longer to build a lasting democracy in that country. However, a drawdown of troops over the years sent a different message.

“We were always trying to get out, and we always sent that message to the Taliban, which emboldened them because they knew we were leaving,” said Brostrom.

He remains proud of his son’s sacrifice.

“My son didn’t die trying to defend an Afghan government,” he said. “That was the bigger mission, but he wasn’t thinking of that when he was attacked. He was trying to save his soldiers.”

But how the war is ending is leaving a bitter taste.

“For all the other Gold Star families, I know this is very heartbreaking and to include the veterans and the wounded warriors, because they gave so much trying to help Afghanistan.”

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