Washington. The process of US withdrawal from Afghanistan has been completed on 31 August. But the scene of the last day of this mission is still fresh in the minds of the pilots and crew members of the US Army. Crew members of the last plane to take off under this mission say that the sky was lit up with fireworks and sporadic gunfire that day and the airspace was littered with aircraft debris and destroyed equipment.
On August 31, the last day of US withdrawal from Afghanistan, five last C-17 aircraft were lined up at Kabul airport, through which the US was to evacuate American and Afghan citizens from the country. There was no rocket defense system to protect these aircraft on the runway during the final hours of the mission. Also, there was no one at the airport control center (ATC) to instruct these planes. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Brayden Coleman described the scene as horrifying, saying it was an “apocalyptic scene”. Coleman was in charge of the security of his plane.
He said, “It was as if we were watching a horror film. Where all the planes were seen destroyed at the airport. There was a plane that was completely burnt. Crew members of the last US Air Force plane that took off from Kabul airport shared their experiences of the day in an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday.
Air Force Captain Kirby Wydan, pilot of the MOOSE81 aircraft, the last of the five that took off, said, “I was definitely under a lot of stress. All we were wishing was that everything would be fine and we could take off and leave safely from here.” He said that our planes were standing in the area of the airport where the attack took place earlier. Once during the night, a group of civilians came into the airspace and tried to board the plane, but the soldiers deployed in the security of the plane stopped them.
From Scott Air Force Base in Illinois, Air Mobility Command commander General Jacqueline van Ovost was overseeing the mission. He was in touch with the officials present at the airport.
Major General Chris Donahue, commander of the US Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, was the last soldier to board the last C-17 aircraft. He was in charge of security for the evacuation mission. Soon after the plane took off, he sent a message, “Well done, we are proud of you all.”