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.”
“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.”
“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.