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386th Air Expeditionary Wing Airmen uphold theater gateway name during NEO airlift

A photo of service members supporting Afghanistan evacuations

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. James Terry, 386th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler, conducts a search of Afghan evacuee luggage with his K-9 at Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait, August 25, 2021. The Department of Defense is committed to supporting the evacuation of American citizens, Special Immigrant Visa applicants and other at-risk individuals from Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ryan Brooks)

A photo of service members supporting Afghanistan evacuations

Afghan evacuees stand in line outside the passenger terminal to get on buses at Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait, August 24, 2021. The Department of Defense is committed to supporting the evacuation of American citizens, Special Immigrant Visa applicants and other at-risk individuals from Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ryan Brooks)

A photo of service members supporting Afghanistan evacuations

The Department of Defense is committed to supporting the evacuation of American citizens, Special Immigrant Visa applicants and other at-risk individuals from Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ryan Brooks)

A photo of service members supporting Afghanistan evacuations

A U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster from McGuire Air Force Base transports U.S. Marines to Afghanistan on August 18, 2021, from Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait.

A photo of service members supporting Afghanistan evacuations

U.S. Marines load onto a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster from McGuire Air Force Base to be transported to Afghanistan on August 18, 2021, from Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait.

A photo of service members supporting Afghanistan evacuations

Evacuees from Afghanistan are transported to a passenger terminal for accountablity and to continue travel to their temporary lodging Aug. 24, 2021, at Ali Al Salem, Kuwait. The Department of Defense is committed to supporting the evacuation of American citizens, Special Immigration Visa applicants and other at-risk individuals from Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Eric Summers Jr.)

A photo of service members supporting Afghanistan evacuations

Afghan evacuees leave a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster after arriving to Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait, August 24, 2021. The Department of Defense is committed to supporting the evacuation of American citizens, Special Immigrant Visa applicants and other at-risk individuals from Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ryan Brooks)

A photo of service members supporting Afghanistan evacuations

Members of the U.S. Air Force 386th Expitionary Security Forces Squadron escort Afghanistan evacuees after arriving on a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft at Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait, Aug. 24, 2021. The Department of Defense is committed to supporting the evacuation of American citizens, Special Immigration Visa applicants and other at-risk individuals from Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Eric Summers Jr.)

A photo of service members supporting Afghanistan evacuations

Evacuees arrive on a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft at Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait, August 23, 2021. U.S. Air Force Airmen are assisting with evacuations of Americans and allied civilian personnel from Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. Daryn Murphy)

A photo of service members supporting Afghanistan evacuations
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The 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron loads pallets of cots on to a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster at Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait, August 22, 2021. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ryan Brooks)

A photo of service members supporting Afghanistan evacuations
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U.S. Marines from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit board a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III at Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait, Aug. 13, 2021. The Department of Defense is committed to supporting the U.S. State Department in the departure of U.S. and allied civilian personnel from Afghanistan, and to evacuate Afghan allies to safety. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Eric Summers Jr.)

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U.S. Marines from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit board a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III at Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait, Aug. 13, 2021.

ALI AL SALEM AIR BASE, Kuwait --

August 14, 2021, marked the beginning of a historic moment for the U.S. Air Force and the world.

This was the start of the largest non-combatant evacuation operation airlift in U.S. history, as more than 124,000 people, around 5,000 of whom transited through Ali Al Salem Air Base, were safely evacuated from Hamid Karzai International Airport, Afghanistan, in 17 days.

“I am extremely proud of the men and women of the 386 AEW, not just as a commander but because of the humanity, hard work and perseverance they demonstrated during this monumental airlift movement,” said Col. Clinton Wilson, 386th Air Expeditionary Wing commander. “From commanders all the way down to Airmen, everyone put a tremendous amount of time and effort into ensuring we lived up to our name as the theater gateway.”

Throughout the Afghanistan evacuation, the wing facilitated the lodging and transportation for more than 1,500 service members who transited to and from HKIA for support.

“All of this was possible thanks to cooperation with our host nation, Kuwait, as well as our coalition partners working and planning together to support the tremendous number of flights and personnel that transited through Ali Al Salem Air Base during that short time frame,” Wilson said.

Throughout the operation, the 386th AEW enabled more than 725 flights in and out of Ali Al Salem AB, pushed and received over 3.6 million pounds of cargo, and reset the local record from eight to 15 C-17 Globemaster III aircraft parked on the flightline at once.

“This evacuation truly speaks about our Airmen’s abilities to adapt to whatever mission is presented to them,” said Chief Master Sgt. Joshua Buck, 386th AEW command chief. “Not only did we provide support here, but we also had several Airmen travel to other evacuation reception locations to help there as well.”

A group of chaplains, first sergeants and mental health providers traveled to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, to help the evacuees and offered their services to the military members there.

“The job that we were able to accomplish speaks volumes to the mettle and dedication of everyone here,” Buck said. “We would not have been able to help so many people and achieve a safe evacuation without every Airman here stepping up, working outside their normal boxes, and meeting the challenges head-on. I could ask for nothing more from them.”