The sky lit up with fireworks as the U.S. military aircrew prepared to take off from Afghanistan. Stray dogs raced across the asphalt. The Taliban fighters could be seen in the dark through night vision goggles that gave them a green tinted view. They walked around the airfield waveing an eerie farewell.
The five C-17s that were left the country Monday night after an incredibly chaotic and fatal airlift evacuation marked the end of America’s involvement in Afghanistan. They were lined up at Kabul's airport runway. There were no rocket defense systems on the runway to protect them, and no one at the airport control centre to direct them out.
Air Force Lt. Col. Braden Cole, who was responsible for monitoring his aircraft's exterior for artillery fire or other threats, said that it looked "apocalyptic". It looked like a zombie movie, with all the planes destroyed and their doors open, and the wheels broken. One plane was completely burned. The cockpit could be clearly seen, and the entire plane looked almost like a fish's skeleton.
Wednesday's interviews with The Associated Press revealed that members of the Air Force 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, who were on their last military flights, described the final hours of a difficult U.S. withdrawal from a war that left the country in the grip of the Taliban, a divisive, emotional, and divisive conflict.
Air Force Capt. Kirby Wedan, pilot on MOOSE81, was the leader of the last formation of five aircraft.
She said that the planes were located in an area that has been breached and attacked in the past. This added to the stress. A group of civilians tried to climb onto the aircraft at one point in the night. However, they were stopped by Army soldiers who secured the aircraft. Wedan is the chief of the mission planning cell for the squadron.
MOOSE92 was right behind her C-17. Here Coleman, the director operations for the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron was going through his checklists before takeoff. He stepped out of his plane to direct the crew when he was instructed to taxi up a little further.
Coleman said that he had his NVG's on and night vision goggles. A Raven was following him out to make sure that he was safe. Coleman is referring to the member of specially trained security forces who protect Air Force aircraft. It was quite stressful, I won't lie. It's not something you think about at the time. It's just what you are trained to do.