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Local Marine’s family shares tense moments before hearing from their son in Kabul during evacuations

A family in Weston shares their experience, waiting for word from their son assisting with evacuations in Afghanistan
A family in Weston shares their experience, waiting for word from their son assisting with evacuations in Afghanistan

WESTON, Fla. – A South Florida family shares their experience, waiting to hear from their son during last week’s evacuations in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Kelli Rodriguez told Local 10′s Andrew Perez, her heart just dropped when she learned her son, Captain Vidal Rodriguez of the U.S. Marine Corps, was headed to help evacuate Americans and Afghan allies from the airport in Kabul.

“I mean, we knew this was going to be difficult,” said Rodriguez.

It was a tense time, start to finish. A suicide bombing on Aug. 26 killed 13 American service members and nearly 200 Afghans. Captain Vidal, amid the chaos helped reunite families, as thousands were trying to flee the Taliban.

The Rodriguez’s, from their home in Weston, heard of the suicide bombing at the Kabul airport and for a while, they say, they didn’t know if he was ok. But hours later, they received a simple message.

“I’ve got Wi-Fi. I’m safe. Please let everybody know. I just don’t have a lot of time to talk,” Rodriguez said, relieved, relaying her son’s message.

The mission continued for Vidal. Overall, U.S. and coalition aircrafts evacuated more than 123,000 people in just two weeks. Including 5,500 Americans.

The Rodriguez’s finally spoke with Captain Vidal from his home base in Bahrain and they heard about the struggles and sacrifices he encountered in Kabul.

FILE - In this Aug. 16, 2021, file photo, hundreds of people gather near a U.S. Air Force C-17 transport plane at the perimeter of the international airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. A school district in a San Diego suburb that is home to a large refugee population says many of its families who had taken summer trips to Afghanistan to see their relatives have gotten stuck there with the chaos following the withdrawal of U.S. troops. (AP Photo/Shekib Rahmani) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

The war in Afghanistan spanned 20 years and claimed more than 2,400 American lives over its course.


About the Authors:

Andrew Perez is a South Florida native who joined the Local 10 News team in May 2014.

Veronica Crespo writes for Local10.com and also oversees the Español section of the website. Born and raised in Miami, she graduated from the University of Miami, where she studied broadcast journalism and Spanish.