Amidst all the anger, frustration and sadness swirling around the chaotic last days of U.S. presence at the Kabul airport, two particular images brought some joy to all concerned. Both were photos of U.S. Marines carrying small Afghan babies in their arms.
U.S. Marine holding an Afghan baby whose mother threw over the fence in Kabul to save them. pic.twitter.com/9C08T5IKdH
— Hananya Naftali (@HananyaNaftali) August 20, 2021
One was 23-year-old female Marine Sergeant Nicole Gee, who was gently cradling her tiny tot.
The sergeant was with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit from Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.
Gee was tragically killed by the terror bomb detonated near the airport main gate. She was a gentle warrior and a hero.
The other gentle warrior was a male Marine smiling at the baby in his arms. He was Matt Jaffe, a 27-year-old Marine sergeant, who is also Jewish.
According to JewishNews.TimesofIsrael, Matt connected with the infant after another Marine handed the baby to him. The child was later reunited with its father. It added:
“I’m just a Marine, same as the men and women I serve besides, doing a job to try and help people and protect people,” [Matt] said in a statement attributed in the media to the Marines. “It’s pretty grim out here and sad. I had an opportunity to show some humility and do something that was good for the soul.”
Meryl [Matt’s mother] said the smile was her son through and through. “He has a really good heart. He’s a good soul.”
She was not surprised to see him bond with a child: Matt Jaffe had spent five years coaching kids at the Manhattan Jewish kids’ camp. There was one family whose boys especially adored him. “He was their go-to babysitter,” his mother recalled, saying both parents were professionals with unpredictable work schedules. Matt would agree to babysit at a moment’s notice. “The boys loved him because he was fun to play with.”
Meryl said she and her husband did not expect a military career for their son. “Matthew was a kid that the only weapon he had was a very small water pistol in the playground, he was not allowed to have a Super Soaker,” she said. “We would not buy a Super Soaker for him.”
Matt got work as a bouncer when he was studying criminology at the University of Maryland. He had made friends with other bouncers, some of whom were former Marines. He enlisted his senior year and was off to boot camp within days of obtaining his degree. He signed on for six years and is due for discharge in May, when he plans to pursue graduate studies.
This is just a reminder that U.S. Marines, just like Americans in general, come in all types, and religions. And they protect their friends and allies regardless of faith, race, or nationality. Semper FI. ADN