WASHINGTON, Aug. 8, 2011 — The U.S. military must remain committed to the freedom, peace and stability of Afghanistan, the International Security Assistance Force commander said today.
Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen returned to his Kabul headquarters after seeing off and paying respects to the “magnificent troops” who died Aug. 6 when their coalition CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed, killing 30 ISAF service members — including 25 special operations personnel — and eight Afghan commandos. All ISAF service members on board were from the United States.
“Today we honor the lives and service of our brave Americans and their valiant Afghan brothers in arms, who fought courageously against the enemies of the freedom and security of both our nations,” Allen said.
“In life they were comrades in arms and in death they are bound forever in this vital cause,” the general added. “We cherish this selfless sacrifice.”
The remains are being flown tonight to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, officials said.
Allen paid condolences to the families and friends of those who were killed and pledged to support them through the difficult days ahead.
“They too have made enormous sacrifices and we also honor them as we move forward,” Allen said.
The general said ISAF would continue to relentlessly pressure the enemy and develop the Afghan security forces so that “on their shoulders they can defeat this insurgency and bring lasting and enduring peace to this historic land and this great people.”
Allen recalled the lines of Laurence Binyon’s World War I poem, “For the Fallen.”
“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn; At the going down of the sun and in the morning; We will remember them.”
Allen added, “We will remember them … We will prevail.”
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)