The Situation in Afghanistan Is Closer to Tacoma than You Might Think

By now you’ve probably seen the video of the C-17 taxiing down the flightline in Kabul, overrun by desperate Afghans. You may have also noticed that the particular aircraft in that video bore the markings of the 62nd and 446th Airlift Wings.

We see these jets flying over Tacoma every day and while many of them are just training flights, some of them are on their way to or from Afghanistan, among other places.

There are a little under 300 C-17s in service at different duty stations around the world. Forty-four of them—including the one in that video—are based at McChord Field. 

When we did a story on the C-17s and the 62nd Airlift Wing a while back, we explored the ins and outs of number 1106. The one in the video is 1109. Of course, this is just a coincidence and has no real relevance in this situation. But still, it does make the whole thing feel a lot closer to home.

The pilot watching that scene from the flight deck may be driving down Ruston Way later this week. The loadmaster who had to close the ramp with people still trying to get on might be sitting next to you at a restaurant in a few days.

The families crammed into the backs of those same airplanes, who only days ago were living out their lives in Kabul, may never see their home country again. Tacoma will be the first introduction to life in the US for a lot of these people. God only knows what will happen to the friends and family they left behind.

This is, admittedly, a stretch for the kinds of things we normally talk about here. The story is still unfolding and we’ll all be learning things in the coming days and weeks. There are two big points we’d like to make, though.

First, if you’re willing and able to help, the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service is organizing donations and volunteers to help with the following services:

  1. Apartment Set-Up
  2. Airport Pick-Up
  3. Meal Assistance
  4. Transportation Assistance
  5. Mentorship
  6. Tutoring
  7. English as a Second Language Aide
  8. Writing to congressperson on behalf of Afghan Allies

Second, if you’re a veteran of the Afghanistan war, this whole thing could be particularly difficult for you but it’s important to know you’re not alone. It’s a hell of a thing to spend months, years, or an entire career in a foreign country, getting to know its people and cities, only to see it fall apart in a matter of days. 

You may be questioning the point of it all and whether any of it was worth the sacrifice. This is a completely rational reaction and plenty of other people are right there with you. There are people to talk to who understand what you’re going through and resources available to make life easier. If you or someone you know is having a hard time dealing with this, the VA has a list of resources and advice available here.

  1. Send them back and make them fight for their own country. We already have seattle refugees. We dont beed anymore.

    1. well there you have it Tim has spoken… i guess the good thing is that last time i checked Tim was not not in charge. Thank you for your hatred Tim

  2. Tim, you sound like a sweet generous Christian man. Guess you, like so many others, take advantage of the notion that someone at sometime had to brave leaving adverse circumstances in another country so you could be born into privilege.

  3. “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.”

    Oh Tacoma, let us receive them well.

  4. Unkindness and living in fear (and acting out with violence) make the world shrink. The pressure must be unbearable, choosing to live with all that misery. Best way to drown out that static is to step up and volunteer to help these folks get settled in whatever capacity you can manage…and stay the course, invite them to be an integral part of your families, your social circles, your lives. Think of what you would need if you found yourself a stranger in a strange land after having left everything you have ever known behind, barely escaping with your life and the clothes on your back. They’re going to need allies and friends in this brave new world they find themselves in. Love and generosity expands the universe. Let’s do this, fellow humans. It’s not every day that the chance to ‘be the change you want to see in the world’ gets handed to you like this.

  5. Refugee crisis will only get worse. Afghans risked their lives to work with American military as interpreters. I’ve lived in Tacoma for 30 years.

    We’ve got room to bring Afghan families.

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