An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Home : Media : News
NEWS | Nov. 6, 2021

Airlifter Tanker’s Association recognizes Arctic Guardians for evacuation of Afghans

By Staff Sgt. Kelly Willett 176th Wing Public Affairs

The Airlift Tanker’s Association presented coins Oct. 30 for 144th Airlift Squadron C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft crew members for their efforts during Operation ALLIES REFUGE in August and September. 

ATA’s recognition was for the squadron’s support during the operation in Afghanistan from Aug. 12 to Sept. 2, which was the largest noncombatant evacuation operation since Vietnam.

Alaska Air National Guard 1st Lt. Luke Cvancara, C-17 copilot during the operation, accepted the ceremonial coin on behalf of the 144th AS at the 30th Annual ATA conference in Orlando, Florida.

One flight carried 476 passengers and required an emergency waiver to exceed the typically approved 350 passengers. There was little passenger security during these flights, leading to the crew taking responsibility for passenger screening and aircraft security.

Staff Sgt. Merick Ahlberg, a 144th AS loadmaster involved in this mission, expressed his initial reluctance and subsequent pride for being part of the mission.

“It’s not something you want to have to go do, especially based on the circumstances surrounding the event, but I was glad to be chosen to go, and I was glad to go with the people who went,” he said. “I knew we could get the job done, no matter what the scenario was.”

Maj. Zach Roberts, 144th AS C-17 aircraft commander, said the mission was short notice.

“Our crew was notified a day prior to leaving into the unknown that was evacuating refugees from Kabul,” he said. “It was an incredible opportunity to represent the Alaska Air National Guard while flying one of the most unique and rewarding missions any of us have and possibly ever will fly while helping as many people as possible”.

In total, during the 17-day mission, the crew evacuated 1,051 passengers and moved 395,800 pounds of cargo.

Holiday traditions bring service members, North Slope Borough community closer
December 1, 2022

Senior leaders fulfill holiday tradition in service of Alaska Army Guard Soldiers
November 29, 2022

Bethel-based Guardsmen bring holiday cheer to Scammon Bay
November 21, 2022

Clear Space Force Station Airmen and Guardians Honored as 2022 Alaska Missile Defenders of the Year
November 17, 2022

Alaska National Guard to bring Christmas cheer to three remote villages
November 15, 2022

Veterans Advocacy Award recipient honored for dedication to court
November 15, 2022

Exercise Guardian Watch: How Alaska Guardsmen maintain arctic resilience and readiness
November 9, 2022

Family Programs new orientation shifts focus from Guardsmen to families
November 7, 2022

168th Wing Airmen stay mission ready with CBRN training
November 7, 2022

Alaska Native Guardsman driven to serve after early childhood experience
November 1, 2022