Father who lost son in Afghanistan reflects on Taliban takeover

‘We did need to leave Afghanistan but we didn’t need to leave it empty,’ Army veteran Donn Weaver says

MERITT ISLAND, Fla. – Todd Weaver was just beginning his senior year of high school the day terrorists crashed commercial airliners into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field.

Weaver’s father, Army veteran Donn Weaver, remembers speaking with his son that night.

“[He said],’Dad, I don’t know how and I don’t know when, but I have to do something for my country. We can’t let these people off,’” Donn Weaver recalled.

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The attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 later prompted Todd Weaver to enlist in the Army to take part in Operation Enduring Freedom.

After serving in Iraq, First Lieutenant Todd Weaver deployed to Afghanistan, where he was killed in action on September 9, 2010.

“There’s always a hole in my heart,” said his father. “And my wife Jeanne, we share that sadness. But we also have to live up to the legacy of a pretty special person.”

Donn Weaver has lived up to that legacy by leading several local veteran organizations, including the Brevard Veterans Council and the Brevard Veterans Memorial Center, where a museum display recognizes service members who fought the War on Terror.

Nearly 20 years after the U.S. first launched airstrikes in Afghanistan, Weaver has watched with dismay as the Taliban quickly took control of the country in recent days.

“We created the best chance in the history for that country to have an independent, free Afghanistan. Americans have to be proud of that,” Donn Weaver said. “What we need to be concerned about is, what can we do better in future policies in dealing with countries to make sure it doesn’t end in such a dramatic and disastrous way?”

Although Weaver’s opinion is that the United States should have planned to keep a relatively small number of special forces or other troops in the region for stability, he does not want the achievements and sacrifices made by his son and other service members to be overshadowed by the way the United States exited Afghanistan.

“Americans have to put this into perspective beyond these few days or weeks that we’re now in,” Donn Weaver said. “And the perspective is, we did need to leave Afghanistan but we didn’t need to leave it empty.”

Weaver also hopes recent events in Afghanistan do not discourage other Americans from joining the armed services, should their nation need them.

“We have done so much as a country to help other countries. It is unmatched in the history of the world,” Weaver said. “We really pray for those soldiers and marines all that are there now trying to finish that evacuation.”

About the Author:

Emmy Award-winning investigative reporter Mike DeForest has been covering Central Florida news for more than two decades.