“I guess the best way to describe it was apocalyptic,” Coleman said of the rainy night. “It was unlike anything I had ever seen.“
When Coleman’s aircraft was attempting to land in Kabul, chaos ensued in the air.
“We came back around, we blacked out over Kabul. And we look over the side and it’s, you know, boof, boof, boof. ADA or triple-A, that’s anti-aircraft artillery that was going off,” Coleman said. “We had to turn early to come in. They had to line up a truck on the runway so we could land.“
When safely on the ground, Coleman described a bleak scene in Kabul.
“You look over to the side and there’s these planes, and the best way to describe, it’s like a skeleton of a fish where the cockpit was intact,” Coleman said. “But then you see this row of seats, but the thing had been burned down, broken wheels. The doors were open on all these airplanes.“
“I had been to Kabul many times before and it certainly didn’t look the same on that final night.”
Lined up on the runway were the five last C-17s to leave the country under the direction of Coleman and the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron.
When it was time for the final departure with members of the 82nd Airborne Division safely onboard, Coleman notes being appreciative for leaving a dangerous area unscathed.
“We were able to save so many people,” he said. “You know, there’s always work to be done. But we did what we could. And for me, I’m just proud, proud to be a U.S. serviceman.”