LINCOLN COUNTY, Mo. – Lincoln County Sheriff Rick Harrell was in Afghanistan when he was watching the news about corruption in Lincoln County and it inspired him to run for sheriff.
After winning the election he took over this year and brought three former co-workers with him.
Harrell spoke today with them at his side.
“A part of me wishes we were all right there to help,” he said.
Harrell worked a decade in Afghanistan with each of the men who now work in his Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office. Their previous mission, through a private military contractor, was to teach Afghans how to police in a democratic society.
Harrell fought tears as he said, “We all lost friends, Americans that died working with us – so – did that matter? My Dad fought in Viet Nam. I know how he feels.”
Capt. Pasquale Patti added, “I feel helpless because a lot of the people we worked with were very good people and we do want to help them.”
Lt. Orville Lester said, “Our women and children, I feel sorry for them the most because the years we’ve been there – the 12 years, ten years, we’ve built them up. We said you have rights, they can’t treat you that way.”
“Now that they have a different mindset, it’s going to be a living nightmare for them right now if the Taliban stays there.”
Chief Deputy Randy Lambert said, “The saddest part is we were there partnered with our Afghan counterparts and a lot of them did a lot of stuff to save our lives.”
“It infuriates me. It makes me very upset because they trusted us. We trusted them.”
They still believe their service meant something
“We kept the internet on and we kept the schools open. That’s what we did. We raised an entire new generation of Afghans that had a lot of hopes and dreams for the future,” Harrell said.
He turned to Lambert as he continued, “We worked a mission for women’s empowerment to help women’s rights – obviously, you know, that just got kicked right in the teeth.”
The crumbling society they see where they once served, now drives them in their current mission here at home.
“It makes you want to work harder – give it everything we’ve got,” Harrell said.