While flying over Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, the crew of an Air Force C-17 cargo jet with the call sign Reach 651 encountered these situations. In unusual situations, it may be necessary to disregard the safety rules in order to complete the mission.
When asked about what she and her crew had to accomplish that day, Senior Airman Kimberly Heiser said, “It is entirely against policy.” “We have never done it,” the employee said. During the latter hours of the United State’s longest-running conflict in Afghanistan, more than 124,000 people were being evacuated from Kabul as part of Operation Allies Refuge (OAR), a large U.S. military operation. At Travis Air Force Base in California on Friday, Heiser and the other seven airmen on board Reach 651 were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for their contributions to the operation. As one of more than a hundred C-17 crews tasked with transporting the evacuees, Reach 651 frequently packed 450 or more people onto each flight.