A reserve deputy for the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office is grateful to be home after being among those evacuated in recent days from the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Josh Cummins, an Air Force veteran who now works as a private contractor for the U.S. State Department, described the scene on the ground in Kabul as “chaotic and busy” as there are a lot of moving parts to evacuating an entire Embassy.
“I was basically with my team and our job was to make sure that the embassy stayed safe and our personnel got out. We had to maintain our security posture until all civilian personnel were out. Then we got everyone else out without any problems,” he said.
Like most other Americans, Cummins watched television coverage of the last planes out of Kabul airport with Afghans frantically trying to get out of the country as the Taliban takeover began.
“Seeing those people clutching onto planes was sad. Many of those people were willing to die just to get to the United States. Around the world, the U.S. still represents freedom,” Cummins said.
The experience has renewed his belief that Americans are privileged above all other nations simply by birthright.
“I’ve seen how some of those people in Afghanistan have to live just to survive. Some of the things we argue about here in the United States are so petty. There are so many other things to be concerned about. As Americans, we forget how good we have it,” Cummins said.
The poorest of the poor in the United States would be considered rich in Afghanistan. Simply having an air-conditioned home would set a person apart as wealthy, he said.
“I certainly have a new appreciation for what we have and the freedoms we have here,” Cummins added.
Due to security protocols, Cummins cannot fully describe what he saw on the ground in Kabul as the Taliban arrived. He could only say that it was “getting a little sporty.” Everyone he worked with made it safely out of the country so he has no remaining ties to Afghanistan, but Cummins is concerned about what will become of the people of the country, particularly women.
“Things are about to radically change for them because the Taliban are more restrictive. I don’t want to speculate about what they are going to do or what’s going to happen, but in the past under the Taliban, things were harder for girls. They weren’t allowed to go to school and couldn’t be educated,” he said. “Can you imagine if someone tried that here? I don’t know if it will go back to the way it was. Time will tell. Here in the United States, women have the option of wearing what they want to wear. Under the Taliban, they will likely have to wear full burkas again.”
Cummins arrived home in Liberty on Tuesday after two days of travel and multiple flights. He said his first stop once his feet were on American soil was a Starbucks in the Washington, D.C., airport, where he relished the opportunity to have “non-burnt coffee.”
In the coming days, he plans to present two flags that were flown over the U.S. Embassy in Kabul to Liberty County Sheriff Bobby Rader. One of the flags was flown in honor of the entire sheriff’s office and the other was flown in honor and memory of the late Sheriff’s Deputy Richard Whitten who died last year from injuries he sustained while trying to apprehend a murder suspect. Cummins says that Whitten’s flag will eventually find its way to his widow, Kami.
For now, Cummins plans to spend a few days with his wife, Amanda, and their three children, Aiden, Aaron and Autumn. He hopes to resume work at another U.S. embassy as soon as the opportunity allows.