April 14, 2021
Read full interview here
PEMBROKE PINES, FLA. (WSVN) – Families of soldiers in Pembroke Pines spoke to 7News about the pain and sacrifice they endured in the war in Afghanistan after President Joe Biden announced that he will be withdrawing troops from the Middle Eastern country by Sept. 11.
While the Afghan war hasn’t been at the top of the news cycle for a long time, residents of Pembroke Pines are living with a constant reminder of the two-decades-long conflict. There’s a sign commemorating Juan Restrepo, a young man who died in the war.
Restrepo’s family and other families of Afghanistan war veterans, living or dead, said the news of the military withdrawal is welcome.
“There’s so much horror in war that no human should have to experience,” said Janine Lutz.
Her son Johnny spent six months in Afghanistan and came home.
Janine said her son Johnny, a Lance corporal in the Marines, didn’t say much about his time there. He’d lost his best friend the second day.
“Shot in the neck and bled out. They lost 13 men that summer,” she said.
In 2013, Johnny Lutz took his own life. He was 24.
His suicide became another casualty of the war in Afghanistan.
Over 2,300 men and women died in combat, and so many more struggled at home.
“You can’t unsee something that you’ve seen,” Janine said.
Just shy of 20 years since the first American air strikes, the United States is leaving Afghanistan.
“As the American military and American people, we have done as much as we can possibly do for the Afghans,” said Chad Maxey, who served in Afghanistan.
Maxey served as a major in the army and said the U.S. Military faced huge challenges but did largely dismantle the terror group al-Qaeda.
“It may not be the way we wanted to leave at a complete peace, but at the end of the day it’s a lot less violent than when I was there in 2013,” he said.
Restrepo is another soldier who won’t watch American troops leave Afghanistan on Sept. 11.
A documentary bearing his name was released three years after he died on an Afghan hillside.
His family said they support the decision to leave 100%.
But Janine Lutz said the Afghan people will also live with the consequences and quoted a letter from an Afghan music student.
“I would ask them not to despair. That their sacrifice was wasted, I will prove it was not. I will say thank you through my lifetime of music. They can’t take that away from us nor from you,” she read.
Janine Lutz now runs a foundation to help soldiers who are dealing with PTSD.
The Restrepo family said there has been a lot of pain and a lot of sacrifices, but the war in Afghanistan has been going on for 20 years and enough is enough.
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