How to help the HKIA bombing victims’ families
September 7, 2021

On August 29, Marine Capt. Geoff Ball, the commander of Ghost Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment,  posted on Facebook about the circumstances of the bombing at Hamid Karzai International Airport on Aug. 26. Besides offering some solemn clarification, Capt. Ball also included resources for assisting the families impacted by this tragedy.

Recalling the day of the bombing

Ball began the post with, “On August 26, at around 1730, Ghost Company was rushing to save as many people as possible at the Abbey Gate before we were required to cease processing evacuees. We were supposed to have stopped an hour earlier, but we decided to keep working for an additional hour in hopes of finding more passport holders or Green Cards. Alongside many other members of 2/1, the Army, and British Paratroopers, the Marines and Sailors of Ghost, were pulling families out of the canal when a suicide bomber detonated his device from the other side of the water.” 

According to Ball, the company worked tirelessly until the very last minute, as they attempted to gather as many as they could before halting evacuation efforts at the airport.

The Captain continued, stating “All those working to save Afghans and Americans were fully exposed to the blast. Nine of my Marines and Sailors gave their lives so that others may live, and almost 20 other members of the company were wounded by their side. Up until that moment, I did not believe I could ever be more proud of their efforts, by the way they handled the surging crowds and chaos all week, but they proved me wrong.”

Tranfer cases of service members killed in HKIA bombing

Flag-draped transfer cases line the inside of a C-17 Globemaster II Aug. 29, 2021, prior to a dignified transfer at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. The fallen service members died while supporting noncombative evacuation operations in Kabul. (U.S. Air Force photo by Jason Minto)

“We lived up to our name, The Professionals.”

Ball’s post also largely focused on the impressive response displayed by those working on the scene, immediately after the bombing occurred.

A mass casualty event is something we prepared and trained for – especially our incredibly (Sic) corpsmen. It is defined by having fewer resources than necessary to process and handle those wounded. In our case, we had a third of our entire force to care for in a split second.” Ball asserted.

Despite this acknowledgement, the Captain said, “But in less than 20 minutes after the bomb detonated, we had our first wounded at the airport hospital and this included a ten minute drive time. Senior leaders at the operations center remarked they had never seen a MASSCAS response move so quickly. The entire V21 team worked incredibly smoothly and efficiently during this moment and we lived up to our name, The Professionals. We held security, we moved our wounded, and due to our training, likely saved more than we should have.”

A U.S. Air Force Airman waves goodbye to evacuees from Afghanistan as they prepare to board a Boeing 777 before departing Naval Air Station (NAS) Sigonella, Sept. 4, 2021. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Erika L. Kugler)

“There is no breaking this company”

Before noting exactly how many the group helped leave the country, Ball commented on the dynamic of those involved. He said, “If Ghost Company is anything- it is a family. It is resilient and it is cohesive. In less than 24 hours after we returned to our billeting area after the attack, the company was back on the line and watching over evacuees. As my First Sergeant and I walked the lines that night, we saw the airport flag at half mast and we raised it back up. There is no breaking this company.”

Without wasting a moment, those on the ground knew that sticking to their mission was the most appropriate way to valorize such immense sacrifice. This meant that even lowering the flag to half mast would have to wait.

“The Marines of Ghost and the rest of the V21 family were magnificent. Not only in that moment of horror, but throughout an entire week of the most indescribable tragedy one could ever witness. Our combined efforts kept the Abbey Gate open when many others closed – only pausing when the Dept of State couldn’t process evacuees fast enough. As a result, V21 and the British Parachute Regiment processed over 30,000 people through the Abbey Gate.” Ball summarized, while noting the projected number of those they helped to escape Afghanistan.
“There is no greater honor for a Marine to be called to save Americans. To be the last on deck as those who need our help are pulled to safety. To lay down our lives for others. That is what my Marines did. They will always be my heroes.” reflected Ball, ensuring that these fallen service members are regarded as the heroes that they are.
T.A.P.S. Logo

Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors Logo (Courtesy of T.A.P.S. website, www.taps.org)

How to support victims of the bombing

Ball ended his post with a call to action, saying:
“To support our families, and the families of those who lost loved ones alongside us, please consider donating to the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (https://www.taps.org)They will be providing care to us for a long time to come. Please consider sharing this post as well so that people may know our story and in hopes of increasing support to an organization that I have personally served for, and I know will provide the comfort we need. Semper Fidelis.”
T.A.P.S. can be reached 24/7 at 800-959-TAPS or www.taps.org.

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