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.
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.
Veterans Crisis Line – If you are having thoughts of suicide, call 1-800-273-8255, then PRESS 1 or visit www.veteranscrisisline.net
For emergency mental health care, you can also go directly to your local VA medical center 24/7 regardless of your discharge status or enrollment in other VA health care.
Vet Centers – Discuss how you feel with other Veterans in these community-based counseling centers. 70% of Vet Center staff are Veterans. Call 1-877-927-8387 or find one near you.