Commander who led final flights out of Kabul describes his 'surreal' experience on 'America's Newsroom

Pelbath, the airborne commander for the final five C17 missions out of 阿富汗, was in Kabul the day of the attack when 13 我们. 服务人员 被杀了.

The feelings we had were disappointment,” Pelbath said. “Being so close to the end that we could we could have such a tragic loss of American lives. And we in the military felt that, I think just like many Americans did, that we lost some brothers and sisters. Particularly so close to the end.

BIDEN ADMINISTRATION ON SIDELINES AS AMERICANS TRAPPED IN AFGHANISTAN GET TALIBAN PERMISSION TO LEAVE

The method of withdrawal has received harsh criticism for having left many American citizens and Afghan allies behind, 与 private groups taking action to evacuate people the U.S. government failed to.

Pelbath, 然而, said his crew had a different viewpoint in the final hours of the withdrawal.

None of that was on the forefront of our minds,” 他说.

What we were seeing was 450 people on each one of our C17s. We were seeing young families, a lot of little kids, a lot of grateful and hopeful smiles. So we had, 我会说, a unique advantage of being in a position where all we saw was gratefulness and goodness and success in what we were doing.

While he maintains that the evacuation mission was a rewarding experience, Pelbath said it was the most difficult three weeks of his crew’s lives.

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This was the largest airlift operation in history,” 他说. “It’s the first time we’ve ever done it. And we were sort of building this operation as we were executing. So a lot of challenges.

Pelbath noted the ease of their mission, despite the emotional and physical challenges of flying every day in 120-degree heat.

We put together a very, very good plan, and I didn’t see any chaos whatsoever once we got into the throes of the operation,” 他说.

An honor to have been able to serve.

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