Bay Area judge reflects on late son's sacrifice during war in Afghanistan as Taliban regain control

Dustin Dorsey Image
Sunday, August 29, 2021
Local judge reflects on son's sacrifice in Afghanistan 9 years later
Local families who lost their loved ones while serving in Afghanistan are watching the chaos unfold in the Middle East as the Taliban take control.

LOS ALTOS, Calif. (KGO) -- Local families who lost their loved ones while serving in Afghanistan are watching the chaos unfold in the Middle East as the Taliban take control of the country.

It has brought up memories for a father of a fallen soldier and caused him reflect on his son's sacrifice given the recent events.

The Cradle of Liberty Statue in Los Altos honors the sacrifices those in the armed forces made to protect and serve.

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It's a place Judge Socrates Manoukian comes to so he can remember his son Matt, a captain in the U.S. Marines who lost his life serving in Afghanistan in 2012.

"I come here sometimes to reflect on Matt and what he did," Manoukian said. "I feel peaceful here. This statue exemplifies exactly what he believed the Marine Corps, the military, Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard stands for. It's about protecting liberty so it can grow freely."

Manoukian describes his son Matt as a die-hard Marine, a good American and someone who always thought of others first.

He was shot and killed during what was thought to be a peaceful gathering by a rogue Afghan police officer.

VIDEO: 7 killed as Kabul airport plunges into chaos while Taliban patrols Afghan capital

Thousands packed into the Afghan capital's airport on Monday, rushing the tarmac and pushing onto planes in desperate attempts to flee the country.

His actions earned him the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism in combat.

It is the second-highest award for bravery in the military.

Captain Manoukian lost his life protecting his fellow Marines and the Afghan people, making the state of the country difficult for his father to see.

"He would be pretty sad, because the presence in Afghanistan was more than just fighting the Taliban, it was nation building," Manoukian said. "The basics on how to take care of a country and a people. The Afghans loved him and he loved them. He viewed them not only as comrades in arms, but as personal friends."

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As Manoukian took a second to reflect on his son's sacrifice, he thought of the children Matt helped.

Despite the grim outlook now, he hopes for the best.

"I don't want to think his life was a waste," Manoukian said. "One of these days the people are going to wake up and the little kids are going to remember, 'gee, remember those Americans that used to play with us and used to stand guard so we could swim in the river? They were pretty good guys. Let's do something for them'. Maybe they'll take back the country. Afghans are tough people, they are very resilient and very smart. I think things will come back. I can only hope."