LUBBOCK, Texas- Amid the United States pulling troops out of Afghanistan one local Gold Star father remembers his son who served.
Tom Cannon said his son Mark Thomas knew he wanted to help protect his country after watching the 9/11 attack in the U.S. Mark enlisted in the Navy and became a hospital corpsman.
“We were very proud of him,” said Tom.
Tom said his son was deployed to Iraq in 2006, a week after his wife suddenly died.
“He had told officers not to tell his guys, as he referred to them that he was going to his mother’s funeral,” said Tom. “He says, ‘they’re going to feel sorry for me and I cannot do my job, and I need to make this deployment, I need this, it’s the only way I can do this.”
That same year, Tom said Mark received a call to be part of an embedded training team in Afghanistan to deploy in 2007.
“I was scared to death. I knew it was going to be worse than Iraq,” said Tom. “He had been and he had been there for four months and I got that dreaded knock on the door.”
Tom said Mark’s unit was ambushed by an insurgent attack and Corporal Ian Parrish who was in the same bunker was shot in the face. Tom said Mark worked instinctively to render aid while still fighting the attackers.
“One of the army medics said, ‘Hey doc, don’t do it. Let’s let them get the ambush under control’ [and Mark] said, “I can’t wait, he’ll die. He has a face wound,” said Tom.
Tom said he’s been following the news on what’s been going on in Afghanistan and said he’s disappointed on the way things have unfolded.
“My emotions and feelings have been all over the map,” said Tom. “I was bitter and angry first and was like, ‘Why did [my son] die if we are just going to give everything away and pull out like that?’
Tom said he hopes to get all Americans out of Afghanistan.
“I hope we don’t end up leaving some American citizens hostage. We deserve and they deserve to get out,” said Tom. “We owe a big debt of gratitude and we have a responsibility I think to get out Afghan citizens who helped us, the translators and others who provided a lot of intel.”
Tom said he’s looking at the positive that his son and others have done to help keep the United States safe.
“Our being there for 20 years has not been there for nothing,” said Tom. “We kept this country safe for 20 years from Al Qaeda.