DAYTON, O.H. (WCBD) – Items used by crews from Joint Base Charleston during the largest non-combatant evacuation operation in history are now on display at the Air Force Museum in Ohio.
Joint Base Charleston played a pivotal role in Operation Allies Refuge, which saw the evacuation of over 120,000 people from Afghanistan as the Taliban took control of the country.
Darrel Lewis, a historian for the 437th Airlift Wing, organized the donation of several items used in the evacuation to the National Museum of the Air Force.
The items came from both Afghanistan and Qatar — and were signed by Charleston-based crews –highlighting the expansive nature of the effort.
Two runway signs from Afghanistan were among the items donated: one from Bagram Airfield and another from the taxi runway in Kabul. Lewis said that the signs may be an unusual donation, but he felt they were important to preserve.
“When you think of artifacts, runway signs are not the first things that come to mind,” Lewis said. “But for the crews that were working OAR, they probably saw these things more times than you could imagine.”
Other artifacts included panels from the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron building in Doha, Qatar, which served as a landing pad for the crews carrying thousands of Afghan refugees to safety.