Their heartfelt angst, as they remembered all the sacrifices that have been made in a bloody 20-year conflict, has been compounded by a series of catastrophic misjudgments, by both Britain and America, that place global security in greater peril.
This was illustrated by Boris Johnson absenting himself from Wednesday’s emergency Commons sitting as Tobias Ellwood, chair of the Defence Select Committee, warned that the Government would have lost any vote on its handling of the crisis if it had dared to put one to MPs.
And this before the furore over whether Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab should have called his Kabul counterpart over the evacuation of UK nationals and Afghans who have supported the British military since 2001.
Tellingly, Mr Ellwood has refrained from demanding Mr Raab’s resignation. He wants the evacuation to be completed and then a long-overdue Cabinet reshuffle – such phraseology enabled him to be disloyal without appearing to be so.
Yet the fact that Mr Raab remains in post reflects very poorly on Boris Johnson’s tawdry over-indulgence of Priti Patel, Gavin Williamson, Robert Jenrick and many others who would never have had the chance to survive for so long under previous premiers because they would not have been appointed in the first place.
However, if and when the PM does reshape his top team, he should utilise the insightful expertise of far more of those whose recent experiences of war, and knowledge of world affairs, matters as much as the contribution made by many Second World Two soldiers to post-1945 politics, and the fine example that they set.