MARTINSBURG, W. Va. (WDVM) — An aircraft from the local Air National Guard base in Martinsburg, West Virginia, has assisted in the ongoing operations in Afghanistan.
According to a Facebook post published by the director of the Air National Guard, Lieutenant General Michael Loh, a C-17 Globemaster III from the 167th Airlift Wing, which is based at the Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport, landed at Naval Air Station Sigonella in Sicily, Italy on August 22. The aircraft, which is crewed by active-duty airmen, successfully rescued people fleeing Afghanistan.
NAS Sigonella is currently supporting the Department of Defense mission to facilitate the safe departure and relocation of U.S. Citizens, special immigration visa recipients, and vulnerable Afghan populations from Afghanistan.
The Air National Guard is also contributing 10 other C-17 aircraft and 19 crews to Operation Allies Refuge. These planes will provide safe passage to Americans and Afghan allies from Kabul to locations throughout the region.
Furthermore, 11 Air National Guard KC-135s and 22 crews are refueling aircraft over the skies of Afghanistan, under the protection of pilotless MQ-9 Reapers which are monitoring the activity on the ground and in the airspace over Afghanistan. There are also five Air Guard squadrons providing aeromedical evacuations to patients.
By August 24, the massive airlift efforts by the U.S. military, coalition, and their partners were able to safely allow an aircraft to leave Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul about every 39 minutes.
As Air National Guardsmen provide aid in Afghanistan, there are also 26 Air National Guard C-130 aircraft and 30 crews are providing transport to evacuees within the United States.
Army Maj. Gen. William D. Taylor stated about 88,000 American citizens, civilian allies, Afghan special immigrant visa applicants, and other vulnerable Afghans have been taken to safety since August 14 during a pentagon briefing on August 25.