Was it all for nothing? U.S. Army vet watches chaos unfold in Afghanistan

A veteran of the U.S. Army who served in Afghanistan has been watching the chaos in that country unfold.

Fidel Angel Quintanilla of Pleasant Hill says it brings back memories of his fallen comrades and the Afghan people.

He says he fell in love with Afghanistan and the people. Now, he's heartbroken over what's happening there.

"This is the badge of a jump master," Quintanilla says as he points to mementos from his two tours in Afghanistan. They are displayed in his home.

He's proud of his service but expresses sorrow over the current turmoil and the sacrifices made by members of the U.S. military.

"We have personal friends that we worked with who died there. It seems like everything was for nothing," Quintanilla says it's painful to see the Afghan people struggle as the Taliban takes over the country.

"You feel the desperation. You can see it in what's going on," he says, "We left the country pretty messed up, especially in the last couple of weeks."

Quintanilla says danger lurked at every corner while he was in Afghanistan. His last tour there was 9 years ago. But his memories are vivid.

He saw combat and also served as a civil affairs officer. His assignment was to engage the Afghan people and help build infrastructure.

He says he interacted with many children, "I wanted to see those kids grow up and have a brighter future than their parents did."

Quintanilla remembers giving a jacket to a 6-year-old girl and says she held onto his hand for the entire day,

"It's one of the sweetest memories I have of Afghanistan."

But fears that the girl, who would now be a teenager, may be enslaved by the Taliban.

And the boys, now in their twenties - likely either members of the Afghan security forces or Taliban fighters.

"The future of Afghanistan were those little kids. If we could really get to their hearts and minds, Afghanistan could become better in the future," says Quintanilla.

Now, hope that their positive interaction with U.S. forces will be a lasting influence.

The Army veteran says he would not hesitate to return to to Afghanistan to help, "If I can sign up, sign me up. I'll go tomorrow if I could."

Quintanilla describes his two tours in Afghanistan as life changing.  He says he has no regrets.