A US Army colonel turned away busloads of Americans, allies and orphans trying to flee Afghanistan during the chaotic evacuation of war-torn country last August, a new documentary claims.
The unidentified colonel was accused of “murdering” the passengers by witnesses who said he blocked passengers of five buses from getting on planes that could have flew them out of Kabul.
Members of a high-level special operations volunteer team made the shocking claim in the new documentary “Send Me.”
The refugees all had verified documents and had been searched by Marines when they arrived at the airport’s secret US military-controlled Black Gate on Aug. 25, 2021 around 3 a.m., team members said.
They were met by an unidentified official from the 82nd Airborne Division who would not let the buses through.
“There was a colonel that who came out and wanted to show that essentially he was the one that could decide whether or not somebody could get on a plane or not,” said a member of the team whose identity was concealed by the documentary’s producers.
The colonel made the call to ‘put everybody back out,” MMA fighter turned-solider Tim Kennedy said.
“‘I don’t care who they are, they get back on those buses and those buses go back into Kabul,’” he said, according to Kennedy — even after the team explained their bags had been screened and were already in the airport.
The colonel could not be pleaded with, and would not even make an exception for people with US passports because he didn’t know “if that’s fake or not,” the anonymous team member recalled.
He then ordered the refugees back into the bus and off the base at gunpoint, where they would pass through a vengeful Taliban security force.
“This decision to turn this bus around essentially just killed, just murdered these people,” former Marine Chad Robichaux said.
“And by the way some of these people are children, some of these people are women, some of these people are Americans that we just sent back to the Taliban.”
The documentary outlines a dangerous rescue mission undertaken by the group as the Taliban rapidly retook control of the country after a nearly 20-year US war and occupation. Robichaux, Kennedy and 10 others had snapped into action as Kabul fell on Aug. 15, 2021, according to the documentary.
It was mission that was initially conceived to save Robichaux’s trusted longtime interpreter Aziz, who had been trying in vain to secure a US visa for six years.
“I know if I didn’t personally intervene, Aziz would die,” Robichaux said.
As more elite fighters joined the “Save Our Allies” team, the scope of the operation vastly increased.
“Let’s not just help this limited group, lets help as many people as we can. Interpreters and their families, women and children that would be vulnerable, Christians that would be persecuted for their faith; these different vulnerable groups, let’s help as many people as we can,” Robichaux said.
With support from the Department of Defense, lawmakers and the royal family of the United Arab Emirates, the brave Americans flew to the UAE, which agreed to give them C-17 planes for the mission, according to the documentary.
The team managed to use their contacts and resources to compile lists of documented people and disadvantaged groups they could fly out. They deployed their reconnaissance skills to secure buses and bring them to Hamid Karzai International Airport through a secret US-controlled gate under the cover of night while eluding the Taliban’s blanket of perimeter security.
The team said it got 800 people to waiting planes on the second night of the mission as the Taliban’s tactics became more brutal and Afghans became more desperate.
“It’s impossible to explain the level of desperation people felt” said team member Nick Palmisciano, a former solider and writer and producer. “Just think in the first couple of days people were trying to hang on to the bottom of C-17s. That’s desperation that Americans don’t understand.”
The scene outside the airport grew increasingly grim, littered with dead bodies – many of them babies – as the Taliban allegedly randomly assassinated people to assert control.
“There were people that threw babies over the wall [of the airport] … not realizing that on the other side of the wall was concertina [wire],” Palmisciano said.
Despite the horror surrounding them, the team was making a difference. On the day of the bus incident, they were in a “jubilant” mood after filling five buses with hundreds of orphans, Christians and Americans.
“We had a location for 300 orphans, we had a location for about 100 Christians. And then we had several high-value individuals that were requested by government entities for us to pick up and then we also had the families of the crews that had been flying the charter airlines,” Palmisciano explained.
After the colonel turned the would-be refugees away, a phone call was made to Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina who asked generals to intervene, but by that time the fate of the refugees and Americans had been sealed.
The team had no other option but to “triple their efforts,” and pull hundreds of other people to safety that night, Palmisciano said.
A day later, the scene at the airport would further deteriorate. Thirteen US service members and some 170 Afghan civilians were killed in a suicide bombing at a gate that had been under US control.
Five days later, the last military plane flew out of Afghanistan and the SOA mission to save Aziz had also rescued more than 12,000 other people in just 10 days, the team said.
“We’re picking up pieces of sand, if you pick up enough of them you’ll eventually have a bucket, but I’m looking at a beach,” Kennedy said.
“Every life that is moved off that beach and into a bucket is a life that is saved from indescribable acts.”
“Send Me” is now streaming on Amazon Prime and being shown at select theaters.