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DOD recognizes last American soldier to leave Afghanistan

Maj. Gen. Chris Donahue, commander of the 82nd Airborne, was the last soldier to leave...
Maj. Gen. Chris Donahue, commander of the 82nd Airborne, was the last soldier to leave Afghanistan as the U.S. withdrew.(Source: DOD/CNN)
Published: Aug. 31, 2021 at 12:32 PM EDT
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(Gray News) - The U.S. Department of Defense shared a photo of the last American soldier to leave the ground in Afghanistan, ending the mission in Kabul.

The DOD’s tweet Monday showed Maj. Gen. Chris Donahue, commanding general of the 82nd Airborne Division, boarding a C-17 at Hamid Karzai International Airport.

The military said the top U.S. diplomat, Ambassador Ross Wilson, also left the country on the flight.

At 20 years, America’s longest war claimed more than 2,400 American lives.

The war effort at times seemed to grind on with no endgame in mind, little hope for victory and minimal care by Congress for the way tens of billions of dollars were spent. The human cost piled up - tens of thousands of Americans injured in addition to the dead.

More than 1,100 troops from coalition countries and more than 100,000 Afghan forces and civilians died, according to Brown University’s Costs of War project.

The last weeks were marked by a frantic effort to evacuate Americans and allies amid the takeover of the nation by the Taliban. Attacks Aug. 26 by forces believed to be from the Islamic State group killed 13 U.S. service members and 169 Afghan citizens as people were crowded around Kabul airport in the hopes of leaving the country.

Gen. Frank McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, said the last planes took off from Kabul airport one minute before midnight in Kabul.

He said American citizens likely numbering in “the very low hundreds” were left behind, but he believes they will still be able to leave the country.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken put the number of Americans still in Afghanistan at under 200, “likely closer to 100,” and said the State Department would keep working to get them out.

He said the U.S. diplomatic presence would shift to Doha, Qatar.

Copyright 2021 Gray Media Group, Inc. The Associated Press contributed to the report. All rights reserved.