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U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Ray Suganuma, left, and U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Vinny Camillo,stand in front of a formation of NATO troops during a ceremony in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016, that honored those who died during the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, in the Afghan war, now in its 15th year. 

Chad Garland/Stars and Stripes

U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Ray Suganuma, left, and U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Vinny Camillo,stand in front of a formation of NATO troops during a ceremony in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016, that honored those who died during the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, in the Afghan war, now in its 15th year. Chad Garland/Stars and Stripes (Chad Garland/Stars and Stripes)

U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Ray Suganuma, left, and U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Vinny Camillo,stand in front of a formation of NATO troops during a ceremony in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016, that honored those who died during the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, in the Afghan war, now in its 15th year. 

Chad Garland/Stars and Stripes

U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Ray Suganuma, left, and U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Vinny Camillo,stand in front of a formation of NATO troops during a ceremony in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016, that honored those who died during the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, in the Afghan war, now in its 15th year. Chad Garland/Stars and Stripes (Chad Garland/Stars and Stripes)


A Sept. 11, 2016, ceremony at Resolute Support headquarters in Kabul was attended by, left, U.S. Army Gen. John W. Nicholson; U.S. Ambassador P. Michael McKinley and his wife, Fatima; and U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Ambassador Rick Olson, among others.

A Sept. 11, 2016, ceremony at Resolute Support headquarters in Kabul was attended by, left, U.S. Army Gen. John W. Nicholson; U.S. Ambassador P. Michael McKinley and his wife, Fatima; and U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Ambassador Rick Olson, among others. (Chad Garland/Stars and Stripes)

U.S. soldiers at Resolute Support headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan, bow their heads for an invocation at a Sept. 11, 2016, ceremony honoring those who died in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon in 2001. Resolute Support is a NATO-led mission to train and advise Afghan forces in the fight of insurgent groups.

Chad Garland/Stars and Stripes

U.S. soldiers at Resolute Support headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan, bow their heads for an invocation at a Sept. 11, 2016, ceremony honoring those who died in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon in 2001. Resolute Support is a NATO-led mission to train and advise Afghan forces in the fight of insurgent groups. Chad Garland/Stars and Stripes (Chad Garland/Stars and Stripes)

U.S. Soldiers at Resolute Support headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan, are pictured here, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016, standing in formation near a memorial to those who  died in the 15-year Afghan war and during the 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States.

Chad Garland/Stars and Stripes

U.S. Soldiers at Resolute Support headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan, are pictured here, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016, standing in formation near a memorial to those who died in the 15-year Afghan war and during the 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States. Chad Garland/Stars and Stripes (Chad Garland/Stars and Stripes)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Laisa Ramirez, left, and U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Vinny Camillo fold the flag during a ceremony at the Resolute Support headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan, commemorating the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, on the 15th anniversary of the event.

Chad Garland/Stars and Stripes

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Laisa Ramirez, left, and U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Vinny Camillo fold the flag during a ceremony at the Resolute Support headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan, commemorating the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, on the 15th anniversary of the event. Chad Garland/Stars and Stripes (Chad Garland/Stars and Stripes)

U.S. Army Spc. Giancarlo Lopez, left, and U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Vinny Camillo fold the flag during a ceremony Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016, at the Resolute Support headquarters in Kabul commemorating the terrorist attacks against the United States 15 years ago.

Chad Garland/Stars and Stripes

U.S. Army Spc. Giancarlo Lopez, left, and U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Vinny Camillo fold the flag during a ceremony Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016, at the Resolute Support headquarters in Kabul commemorating the terrorist attacks against the United States 15 years ago. Chad Garland/Stars and Stripes (Chad Garland/Stars and Stripes)

U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Ray Suganuma carries a retired flag during a ceremony at Resolute Support headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Sept. 11, 2016, commemorating those who died during the 2001 terrorist attacks and in the 15 years since.

Chad Garland/Stars and Stripes

U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Ray Suganuma carries a retired flag during a ceremony at Resolute Support headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Sept. 11, 2016, commemorating those who died during the 2001 terrorist attacks and in the 15 years since. Chad Garland/Stars and Stripes (Chad Garland/Stars and Stripes)

KABUL, Afghanistan — U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Vinny Camillo was a junior in high school the day hijackers crashed planes into the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon and a field outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania. His uncle, then a New York Police Department detective, was a first responder.

On the fifth anniversary, Camillo was at Guantanamo Bay, where the United States has held detainees in the war on terror since shortly after the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan. Ten years on, he was in Afghanistan, and he was back again on the 15th anniversary, part of a flag detail a ceremony Sunday at the headquarters of the NATO-led Resolute Support mission in Kabul.

Camillo is just of many whose lives have followed the arc of America’s longest war. Gen. John W. Nicholson, commander of the NATO mission that in 2015 transitioned to a train-advise-assist role, said the “short and simple” ceremony honored them all — those who died on September 11 and since, and all who have sacrificed for the coalition’s efforts to oust the Taliban and fight terrorism in Afghanistan.

Nicholson, who is also commander of U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, thanked America’s allies who have “stood by us in our darkest hours.”

“Our strength resides in our unity,” he said. Attacks in Europe and elsewhere this year “are reminders that our partnership and our mission are as important now as they have ever been.”

As a result of the coalition’s efforts, NATO has ended its counterinsurgency combat mission and reduced the troop presence to 10 percent of what it was at its height, Nicholson said.“It is now our Afghan comrades who take the fight to the enemy on a daily basis.”

But Americans and their allies are still fighting and dying in Afghanistan, including two who Nicholson called “the latest heroes in this long war” — U.S. Army SSgt. Michael Thompson, a Special Forces medic who was killed outside Lashkar Gah in August while advising Afghan forces, and Lt. Mohammad Akbar, an Afghan special police officer who was killed in the response to an attack on American University of Afghanistan in Kabul last month.

For Camillo, his hopes on the 15th anniversary are for a day when all of America’s troops are back safe from the country’s longest war.

“It’s just trying to bring everyone home,” Camillo said. “Fight back, but bring everyone back.”

garland.chad@stripes.com Twitter: @chadgarland

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Chad is a Marine Corps veteran who covers the U.S. military in the Middle East, Afghanistan and sometimes elsewhere for Stars and Stripes. An Illinois native who’s reported for news outlets in Washington, D.C., Arizona, Oregon and California, he’s an alumnus of the Defense Language Institute, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Arizona State University.
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