Marathon County native, Afghanistan Veteran shares thoughts on Taliban takeover

Published: Aug. 16, 2021 at 10:02 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 17, 2021 at 3:05 AM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - War veterans are expressing their feelings as they watch everything unfold in a place that took a piece of them, literally and figuratively. Including a Marathon County man who left Afghanistan after being shot in the face.

Ten years ago, Ben Manthe served in the war for eight months. He said as we watched the events unfold, it was not only frustrating but also heartbreaking.

“You have to go into a country like that and resign yourself to the fact that you’re basically already dead,” Manthe said.

He grew up in Spencer, Wis., and served in Afghanistan from 2010-2011 before he was injured in the line of duty.

“I was shot there, I left part of my face in that country. It’s hard not to have those feelings of that ‘it’s for nothing,’ but you gotta remind yourself, that, when we were there we made it a better place.”

As he watched the events take place, Manthe’s concerns grew to not only those whom he helped but also helped him.

“It’s hard because I still have people I know in Kabul right now, as we are talking interpreters that saved me and helped me when I was shot. They went against the people who consistently told them that if they don’t help us against the U.S. we will kill you, we’ll kill your family.”

He said he saw this happening from miles away.

“We knew for a fact that the Afghanistan people were not going to fight. It’s hard to make them fight for something that a lot of them don’t feel is worth it or are too scared.”

Manthe has seen first-hand what the Taliban is capable of.

“The Taliban, and this is not an opinion, you can see by the way they fought in the past, is a ‘by-any means necessary’ type of outfit. I can tell you that it is the greatest evil that I have seen in my entire life. I’m especially afraid for the women in Afghanistan because I know how they were treated because I have three girls and that’s what hurts.”

But at the end of the day, there’s one thing Manthe wants everyone to understand.

“It mattered and people need to know that it mattered and that it was for something and the problem that we’re all having is that it didn’t last as long as we wanted it to, we wanted it to be a forever change.”

Manthe added that he doesn’t regret going to Afghanistan because he knew he helped the people there. And, that’s what matters most to him.

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