Life and Death at Abbey Gate
The Fall of Afghanistan and the Operation to Save our Allies
192 Pages, 6 x 9 in, 15–20 illustrations
- February 2024
As the American government began a disastrous mass evacuation of its Afghan allies, a group of American veterans saw the writing on the wall—the people who had supported them on the ground over the past two decades were going to be left behind. Instead of watching on the sideline, they sprang into action. The effort became known nationally as #DigitalDunkirk, in reference to the civilian aspect of the evacuation of soldiers from the beaches of Dunkirk in 1940. As America's last days in Afghanistan came to a chaotic end, an ad-hoc group of veterans, intelligence assets and legislative aides undertook an extraordinary mission to honor the U.S. battlefield creed to leave no comrade behind.
Relying on cell phones and satellites as their weapons, they worked feverishly around the clock to help evacuate as many Afghans who had supported U.S. troops over the past twenty years as possible. As the desperate mass of Afghans tried to flee brutal Taliban rule, Marines of the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, worked at Hamid Karzai International Airport's Abbey Gate in conditions that brought combat-hardened veterans to tears. After an ISIS suicide bomber detonated his S-vest, killing 13 U.S. service members, operations came to a halt.
Told through the eyes of Mikael, his Afghan friend Abdul and the 2/1 Marines on the ground, including a Marine squad leader who personally led the Afghans through the airport, Life and Death at Abbey Gate tells the story behind the story of the mass evacuation of over 124,000 Americans and Afghan allies during a two-week period in the summer of 2021.
This is an important story that should be read by all Americans. A story of leadership, empty government promises and the convictions of our military to stand by our allies in their time of need.
Preface—Who Was #DigitalDunkirk
1 At Home in Michigan
2 An Ann Arbor Childhood
3 Basic Training
5 A Kabul Childhood
6 Early Summer 2021
7 2/1 Marines Make Their Way to HKIA
8 Set Sail—Pre Evac
9 Abbey Gate
10 Team Wins–Getting Them Out
11 The Blast
12 The Mission Continues—The Paiman Rescue
13 The Aftermath
"The work that people like Mikael did exemplifies the commitment we have to not leave any allies behind, There's lots of work still to be done" ~United States Senator Richard Blumenthal
“Amidst some of America's darkest hours in Afghanistan, Life and Death at Abbey Gate displays humanity at its finest. Mikael and the rest of the #DigitalDunkirk team help remind us of the true definition of service and loyalty by honoring our country's commitment to our allies. Seen through the eyes of some of the 2/1 Marines who manned Abbey Gate, this is a story you shouldn't miss.” ~Major Tom Schueman, USMC, Author of best selling book "Always Faithful"
"Life and Death at Abbey Gate is a guided tour through the chaotic intersection of war and humanity. Through the eyes of #DigitalDunkirk and service members on the ground or in the air, Mikael reminds us that courage is not the absence of fear but moving forward despite that fear. A must read for all who appreciate the gallantry of wartime service." ~Matthew "Chaps" Cothron, Host of the ZeroBlog30 Podcast