Marines in Kabul were ordered to pick up human feces and trash at the airport after losing 13 comrades during botched Afghanistan withdrawal, new book claims



By Emma James, Senior Reporter For Dailymail.Com

13:19 11 Sep 2023, updated 15:54 11 Sep 2023

  • Marines from the 3rd platoon of Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, were forced to take part in the cleanup effort
  • The new book claims that the orders came from ‘higher ups’ as their battalion commander helped them 



US Marines in Kabul were reportedly forced to pick up human feces and other trash from an airport after losing 13 comrades to a suicide bomber. 

The soldiers were ordered to clean up the Hamid Karzai International Airport to leave it pristine for the Taliban in August 2021. 

A new book, Kabul: The Untold Story of Biden’s Fiasco and the American Warriors Who Fought to the End, details the humiliation of the soldiers, with those of all ranks being left furious at the decision. 

Just days after a suicide bomb killed 11 marines, a Navy corpsman and an Army staff sergeant – as well as 170 civilians – on August 26, the soldiers were given the orders to ‘police call’ the area. 

It meant they would have to stand shoulder to shoulder and walk through the area, picking up ‘every stray piece of trash or debris’ in the path. 

The soldiers were ordered to clean up the Hamid Karzai International Airport to leave it pristine for the Taliban in August 2021
New book, Kabul: The Untold Story of Biden’s Fiasco and the American Warriors Who Fought to the End , details the humiliation of the soldiers

The grim task was their final one following the botched withdrawal from Afghanistan, with their battalion commander joining the cleanup effort. 

Authors James Hasson, a former US Army Captain, and Jerry Dunleavy, state that the 3rd platoon of Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines felt that the order was the ‘biggest f*** you ever’ following their efforts in the country. 

The area they were ordered to clean up had previously held more than 120,000 Afghan refugees, who had camped in the area ‘defecating and leaving trash, bags, clothes, and other unspeakable things.’ 

‘When we asked what the terminal had looked like, a junior Marine involved in the cleanup sarcastically replied, “It wasn’t exactly clean”,’ the book states. 

‘The Marines were also ordered to unflip all of the vehicles they had flipped over the previous day.

‘The Marines of 2/1 were certain that the order had come from higher headquarters because their battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel Brad Whited, joined them in the cleanup effort and was as visibly displeased as they were. 

‘Marines at every level of the company were infuriated by the order, and the story has spread far beyond the units involved.’

One junior member of the company asked if the order ‘was serious’, and had looked for brooms and rubber gloves after being informed it wasn’t a joke. 

The grim task was their final one following the botched withdrawal from Afghanistan, with their battalion commander joining the cleanup effort
Just days after a suicide bomb killed 11 marines, a Navy corpsman and an Army staff sergeant – as well as 170 civilians – on August 26, the soldiers were given the orders to ‘police call’ the area

Flag-draped coffins of service members killed in action are loaded onto a transport aircraft during a ramp ceremony at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, August 27, 2021
Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Darin T. Hoover, 31, of Salt Lake City, Utah
Army Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Knauss, 23, of Corryton, Tennessee
Marine Corps Sgt. Nicole L. Gee, 23, of Sacramento, California
Marine Corps Sgt. Johanny Rosariopichardo, 25, of Lawrence, Massachusetts
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. David L. Espinoza, 20, of Rio Bravo, Texas.
Navy Hospitalman Maxton W. Soviak, 22, of Berlin Heights, Ohio.

The command sergeant major said that the order to clean the passenger terminal ‘came with a threat that we would not leave at all if it was not completed’, which he felt was an injustice to his Marines. 

“It was degrading and ridiculous,’ one Marine said. ‘We took a lot of casualties and put a lot of effort into that mission and to close it out that way was wrong. 

‘Morale was really down at that point, and it was an extremely pointless effort.’

After cleaning up piles of trash, feces, and half-eaten food to prepare for the Taliban’s arrival, the remaining Marines finally left the country a few minutes after midnight on August 29. 

It comes after General Frank McKenzie ripped President Joe Biden’s disastrous plan to withdraw from the war in Afghanistan.

McKenzie, who retired in April of 2022, was the head of US Central Command during the withdrawal – and was overseeing the area when the suicide bomb attack happened on August 26.

The area they were ordered to clean up had previously held more than 120,000 Afghan refugees, who had camped in the area ‘defecating and leaving trash, bags, clothes, and other unspeakable things’
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Kareem M. Nikoui, 20, of Norco, California.
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Dylan R. Merola, 20, of Rancho Cucamonga, California.
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Rylee J. McCollum, 20, of Jackson, Wyoming.
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jared M. Schmitz, 20, of St. Charles, Missouri.

After cleaning up piles of trash, feces, and half-eaten food to prepare for the Taliban’s arrival, the remaining Marines finally left the country a few minutes after midnight on August 29
Marine Corps Cpl. Daegan W. Page, 23, of Omaha, Nebraska
Marine Corps Cpl. Hunter Lopez, 22, of Indio, California.
Marine Corps Cpl. Humberto A. Sanchez, 22, of Logansport, Indiana
General Frank McKenzie, now retired, was the head of US Central Command during the withdrawal. He now says it was the wrong decision to leave
A Marine with SPMAGTF-CR-CC lifts an evacuee during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport on the day of the suicide bomb attack

In an interview Sunday, he said he feels the withdrawal – which drew widespread criticism and which he had previously defended – will be looked at as a terrible mistake from plan to execution.

‘I believe history is going to view the decision to come out of Afghanistan in the way that we did and the manner that we were directed to come out as a fatal flaw,’ he told Fox News.

‘I have a lot of regrets about how it ended in Afghanistan. I have a regret with the basic decision, which I think was the wrong decision.

‘And I particularly regret that we did not choose to begin to evacuate our people, our embassy personnel, our American citizens and our at-risk Afghans at the time we made the decision to bring in our combat forces.

‘I think that was a serious mistake, and I think that led to the events of August 2021 directly.’

Among McKenzie’s successes was the high-profile raid to kill or capture the ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in 2019, but he also described how he thinks every day about the troops killed in Kabul.

A top former Army commander said that the decision to withdraw from Afghanistan will be looked at as a terrible mistake from plan to execution
McKenzie, who served under Biden and Trump, said: ‘We were dealing with a possibility of an indirect fire attack, either rockets or mortars’

He said that they did not have a ‘ specific description of the person’ who may be responsible for the suicide bomb attempt before it happened
Among McKenzie’s successes was the high-profile raid to kill or capture the ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in 2019

He said that they did not have a ‘specific description of the person’ who may be responsible for the suicide bomb attempt before it happened. 

McKenzie, who served under Biden and Trump, said:  ‘We were dealing with a possibility of an indirect fire attack, either rockets or mortars.

‘But I do know that there was no intelligence to support the assertion that we knew what the bomber looked like that he was carrying a backpack with three yellow stripes

‘There were just none of that. We just did not have that intelligence. You always look back any time you lose people and you wonder if you could have done things differently, and I am haunted by that.

‘I think about it quite a bit. It’s one of the many regrets that I have. I examined everything we did. I think about it particularly in the month of August of every year for the rest of my life.’



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