SAN ANTONIO — One Purple Heart Marine Veteran in San Antonio is holding onto compassion as thousands of Afghanistan refugees flee death and persecution from the Taliban.
Sebastian Gallegos had a calling to serve his country.
“The Taliban is the reason why I joined the Marine Corps. Because they protected Osama Bin Laden,” Gallegos said.
He fought on the frontlines alongside the Dark Horse battalion in one of the most dangerous places in Afghanistan.
“My boys in my unit -- we lost a lot of Marines over there,” Gallegos said.
On Oct. 16, 2010, Gallegos became wounded in the Sangin district of Afghanistan’s Helmand province.
“It’s the same day as my little sister’s birthday,” he said.
Eleven years later, Gallegos continues to bear the physical and mental scars of his participation in the 20-year-war. The U.S. is now pulling out of Afghanistan amid a Taliban takeover where thousands of Afghan citizens are fearing for their life.
President Joe Biden has provided regular updates on the humanitarian mission to evacuate Afghan refugees, including people who helped the U.S. military as translators.
Gallegos is keeping routine contact with his comrades, stressing his admiration for the military personnel who’ve been working to find resources for Afghan refugees arriving in the U.S.
“And it makes me happy that people are looking to America as hope still because it hurt to see all the people running from the Taliban and the pictures of people passing away trying to get onto a plane to evacuate from there,” Gallegos said.
One of those evacuees is an Afghan translator who Gallegos noted has put his life on the line working alongside the U.S. Armed Forces.
They’re putting their own families at risk and they lost some people this past week protecting Zack, the interpreter. The Taliban put their hands on people who were aiding his evacuation to the airport,” he said.
The mission continues to help those in peril and those looking for freedom.
“Whenever we came home and we got to enjoy this peace, the relative peace compared to what’s going on right now in Afghanistan, they didn’t get to come home. They were over there, and the Taliban is very, very vengeful, and obviously the people who helped the U.S. -- there’s a campaign against them right now.”
The Biden administration has set an Aug. 31 deadline to complete evacuations, although it's possible that benchmark could extend.
Organizations such as RAICES (Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services) are prepared to assist Afghan refugees, in particular Special Immigrant Visa holders, as they are processed in the United States.
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