How hundreds of Afghans were saved from the Taliban by veterans in a digital Dunkirk: The Last 96

Two veterans groups working to evacuate a few Afghans from Kabul teamed up to help more than 450 people flee Afghanistan.

The ad hoc squads, armed with cellphones and laptops, came together for one last mission to honor a promise to protect the Afghan allies who protected them during the 20-year war on terror.

“We started referring to it as like a digital Dunkirk,” Joe Saboe, a former Army captain who used his expertise in the digital space to create a vast volunteer network dubbed “Team America,” told Fox News.

Saboe amassed a group of nearly 200 volunteers and established a 24/7 virtual operation center during the weekslong evacuation. 


“I think we very quickly realized, as a result of our actions those first few days, Aug. 13, 14 and even 15, that our government didn’t have a real plan, and most especially didn’t even have communication with a lot of the families that were trying to get out, including American citizens, lawful permanent residents and especially SIVs (Special Immigration Visas),” Saboe told Fox News. “I think that’s when we realized, gosh, we might need a lot of people trying to support this effort.”

His team was guided by a group of senior military veterans known as Task Force Dunkirk, or as Saboe calls them, “the graybeards.”

“Task Force Dunkirk was kind of the command element,” Russell Worth Parker, a retired U.S. Marine lieutenant colonel, told Fox News. 

“We were a bunch of older guys with a lot of connections and a lot of numbers in our phones who could call and break down barriers,” he continued. “The Team America folks are younger, faster, more nimble and vastly more knowledgeable about how to use social media and use the digital space to good effect.”

Parker, a veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, said his 20-hour days working the phones was like a deployment.  

“Things were so chaotic,” he told Fox News. “People say all the time, ‘We were building the airplane in flight.’ We were designing, envisioning, buying the parts, welding, there was no airplane to build in flight. And we just kind of took off and people started throwing parts up to us.”

In Florida, a retired Green Beret commander, Scott Mann, formed another group: Task Force Pineapple.

“It all started with a couple of us who came together to try and save one Afghan commando named Nesam,” the former lieutenant colonel told Fox News.

Leading a small group of veterans, Mann patched together connections in Kabul and at the Hamid Karzai International Airport to help Nesam and his family escape. 

Lt. Col. Scott Mann (Ret.) with Nesam (Courtesy: Task Force Pineapple)

Lt. Col. Scott Mann (Ret.) with Nesam (Courtesy: Task Force Pineapple)

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