JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The first Afghan refugees arrived to the United States over the weekend with little more than the clothes on their backs, and thousands more are expected, fleeing the Taliban’s brutal regime.
As C-17s from Joint Base Charleston (JBC’s) 437th Airlift Wing ferried Americans and Afghans alike out of the chaos at Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport, 437th AW spouses were working behind the scenes.
437th AW Command Chief, Master Sergeant Charmaine Kelley, posted photos showing pallets of supplies being packed for shipment, organized by JBC spouses.
The pallets were stacked with essentials like boxes of diapers, baby wipes, soap, detergent, drinks, and snacks.
Chief Kelley said that “the First Sergeants’ Spouses saw a need and jumped on the first opportunity to collect and get needed supplies out to help out Afghan evacuees.”
The group enlisted the help of JBC’s ‘Port Dawgs,’ the 437th Aerial Port Squadron, which specializes in the movement of cargo.
Together, they shipped 10,400 pounds of supplies to assist with resettlement.
“This is a part of the service,” Chief Kelley said. “This is who we are and this is what we do.”
The supplies will no doubt be welcomed by the fleeing families, many with small children. The flow of refugees is expected to continue as the U.S. has committed to evacuating American citizens, Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders, Afghans who assisted Americans, and other vulnerable Afghans.
On Sunday, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin activated the Civil Reserve Air Fleet, which compels commercial airlines to assist the Department of Defense (DoD) with the movement of evacuees “from temporary safe havens and interim staging bases.” The commercial flights will not fly into Kabul.
Stage I of the activation involves 18 commercial aircraft, according to Austin: three each from American Airlines, Atlas Air, Delta Airlines, and Omni Air; two from Hawaiian Airlines; and four from United Airlines.