By Dillon Thomas

WINDSOR, Colo. (CBS4) — As the family of Army Staff Sgt. Chris Birdwell prepared to commemorate the ninth anniversary of his death in Afghanistan, 13 new households joined the “Gold Star Family,” a group of those who lost their soldiers at war. Much like those killed in the bombing outside the Kabul, Afghanistan airport, Birdwell also paid the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan during the 20-year-long war.

(credit: Birdwell Family)

Pam Birdwell, Chris’ mom, said she was heartbroken when she learned more American lives were lost, especially on the way out.

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“It’s heart-wrenching and heartbreaking to know that families are going to go through that. There’s no pain like losing your child,” Birdwell told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas.

Hanging from the front window of the Birdwell home is a permanent reminder of the ultimate sacrifice their son, and family, paid for both America and Afghanistan. A white flag with a gold star in the center reminds those who pass by that Chris Birdwell died for his country.

“It’s never a group you want to be a part of, the Gold Star families,” Birdwell said.

Chris Birdwell was killed in 2012 during his third tour in Afghanistan. Birdwell was killed by an Afghan soldier that he, and the U.S. military, was helping train.

The Afghan soldier, who the Americans were told they could trust, turned on Birdwell and fellow American soldier SPC. Mabry Anders. The Afghan soldier then killed himself.

(credit: CBS)

Birdwell and Anders died on Aug. 27, 2012, almost exactly nine years before the suicide bombing at the Kabul airport.

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“Having such a tragedy happen when we were hoping we were getting past this, where we weren’t losing Americans from the war, it was devastating to hear so many were lost,” Birdwell said.

Seeing reports of the bombing, many people started reaching out to the Birdwell Family. Friends, family and complete strangers reminded them that their son, and other fallen soldiers, died doing the right thing.

“All week long, ever since the exit started occurring people would reach out,” Birdwell said. “They wanted to make sure we knew that Chris’s life mattered, but his sacrifice wasn’t in vain.”

Holding the Purple Heart her son received posthumously, Birdwell said she couldn’t help but to question how things deteriorated so quickly in Afghanistan.

“It’s just sad that it’s come to this point. That it’s caused other families to experience what we experienced,” Birdwell said.

After 20 years of war, and nearly 2,400 soldiers killed, Birdwell said she expected a better ending to the war in Afghanistan, and wished The White House would’ve been better prepared to preserve the lives of the soldiers lost.

(credit: CBS)

“The number of hostages, the number of lives lost. I would’ve liked to see it end a different way,” Birdwell said.

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Birdwell encouraged the U.S. Government to explore ways to make sure all Americans could return home safely, noting her son wouldn’t want anyone left behind.

Dillon Thomas