New York Air National Guard Crew Awarded Medals for Evacuation in 2021.
One airman from the 105th Airlift Wing of the New York National Guard was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. Five others were awarded Air Medals with a “V” device for heroism in recognition of their contributions to the Afghanistan humanitarian evacuation of 2021.
On August 15, 2021, the crew of Reach 824 was scheduled to transport 22 troops and an MH-47 Chinook helicopter from the United Arab Emirates to Hamid Karzai International Airport. However, the team could not reach the airport in time, as Taliban fighters had reached the outskirts of Kabul. Reach 824’s crew maneuvered the highlands around Kabul and passed other C-17s that we could not land.
Because the plane had been in the air for so long, it ran out of fuel. The pilots were able to connect with a neighboring KC-10 Extender tanker plane while on route to Qatar. Thus, the cargo aircraft may refuel between landing and departure at the airport. The youngest person evacuated by the crew was a 17-day-old child. On their last flight, the team transferred the bodies of thirteen military personnel who had been slain in an assault.
Everyone was fatigued. Chris Guagenti, a crew member, said they believed they were returning home. General of the Army Daniel Hokanson commends the team’s commitment to the objective.