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GOP Afghanistan vets honor military sacrifices, reflect on 9/11 two decades later

FIRST ON FOX: The electionsNational Committee (RNC) released its final installment of its “Not in Vain” video series ahead of Sept. 11, with the fourth and final video featuring GOP conflicts veterans.

The video features veteran Republican Reps. Michael Waltz and Brian Mast of Florida alongside Texas Reps. Ronny Jackson, Jake Ellzey, and Tony Gonzales.

“As tomorrow marks the 20th anniversary of 9/11, we remember the innocent lives lost and also the American spirit that prevailed in the face of terror and tragedy,” RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a press release obtained by Fox News.


“Americans are forever indebted to our veterans who answered the call to serve following the horrific terror attacks 20 years ago,” McDaniel added. “Following Joe Biden’s catastrophic failure in Afghanistan, it is imperative that we remind the veterans, Gold Star families and victims of 9/11 that their service and sacrifice to our nation was not in vain.”

In his portion, Gonzales said  “the very first day” after the Sept. 11 attacks, he and his military comrades around him were trying to find Afghanistan on a map before being shipped out to the country “a few weeks later.”

“When Sept. 11th happened, the very next day we’re gathered around and we’re looking at a map and everyone’s going, ‘Where is Afghanistan?’ Right,” the former Navy master chief petty officer said. “And they go, ‘Here is Afghanistan.’ And guess what? A few weeks later, we were in Afghanistan.”

Ellzey, a retired Naval commander, recalled serving on the USS Enterprise on the day of the attacks, having “watched the second plane hit from my room into the World Trade Center.”


“We were in the Arabian Sea at the time, steaming South,” Ellzey said. “And as soon as the second plane hit, we turned the ship around.”

“We were the first carrier on station after 9/11,” the congressman recalled. “We were the first night-time carrier to deliver strikes into Afghanistan in November of that year.”

“Since the fall of Afghanistan, I’ve probably heard from more veterans and current service members talking about those that they served with, carrying a weight on their shoulders that I hadn’t seen them carry in years,” Mast, a former Army staff sergeant who lost both his legs in Afghanistan said.

“It’s important for everybody to realize just how affected our service members are right now by those commitments that they made to those that they stood alongside,” he continued. “The weight that they’re carrying on their shoulders is something that I can only compare to the weight that they carry for those that wear the flag on their shoulder that they serve alongside.”

Mast also remarked that it is “an extremely heavy burden” borne by our returning service members and that the burden on our veterans currently is “something that people need to see.”

Waltz, a former Army Green Beret and Army National Guard colonel, declared that the “sacrifices” of our veterans, Gold Star families, and the victims of 9/11 “were not in vain.”

“A whole generation of Americans have grown up not worried about planes flying into buildings, not worried about suicide bombers on school busses,” Waltz said. “They’ve grown up in safety.”

Jackson,  a retired Navy rear admiral and physician to former President Trump, echoed Waltz in saying the service and sacrifice of U.S. Armed Forces members are “not in vain.”

“We’ve invested so much into that country over the last 20 years. And those service members, I thank them for what they’ve done,” Jackson said. “Their sacrifice was not in vain. It wasn’t. OK. It kept this country safe for 20 years.”


The RNC’s video dropped  Friday, the day before Sept. 11, and after the U.S.’s botched and deadly troop withdrawal.

If you or a loved one is a veteran struggling amid the Afghanistan troop withdrawal and recollections of 9/11, call the Veterans Crisis Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 and press 1. You can also text the hotline at 838255.

Houston Keene is a reporter for Fox News Digital. You can find him on Twitter at @HoustonKeene.

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