'We left them behind': US veterans tell of guilt at abandoning Afghans

“They were fighting and dying right beside us.”

US veterans Veronica Hoyer and Max Alexander tell ITV News correspondent Emma Murphy of their guilt and anger at leaving Afghan colleagues behind

“Leave no man behind” is the creed of the American military.

It runs through every service - man and woman, whether active or retired. Yet, that phrase stands at odds with what the commander in chief has done in the past weeks.

For those who spent years in Afghanistan, the failure to get all those who helped them out is a burden of guilt and shame.

Veronica Hoyer and Max Alexander spent years in Afghanistan working in airborne intelligence and special ops. Their lives there were supported by Afghans who risked their lives to work with Western forces.

Now at home in Virginia they are in constant touch with those who they feel were left behind desperately trying to help those who helped them. The website operationrecovery.org is being used to bring as many together as possible.

But they are beyond trying to hide their sadness and their anger.

Mr Alexander believes the way President Joe Biden has handled the situation has been "very callous"

“They were fighting and dying right beside us,” Max told me, “they are one of us. There is a camaraderie and brotherhood there and we left them behind.”

Neither see over the horizon warfare as an end, or indeed, a viable way to tackle a terrorist threat. They believe America will return to combat in Afghanistan sooner rather than later.

For now though, that is the least of their worries.

It is those who want to leave rather than the prospect of return which occupies them.

“On behalf of my president I want to tell them we are sorry,” Veronica said.

“I want them to know there are a lot of folks in the US and around the world who really care and we are not going to stop trying to help you leave.”