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Dover Air Force Base airmen reflect on Operation Allies Refuge

Dover Air Force Base

The evacuation Afghan refugees and U.S. personnel from Afghanistan in August was a massive undertaking.

Operation Allies Refuge is considered the largest noncombatant evacuation operation in history And Dover Air Force Base's 3rd Airlift Squadron played a role.

Capt. Travis Parrott and Senior Airman Duncan Copley were among those involved and this week offer their firsthand accounts.

Delaware Public Media's Tom Byrne interviews Capt. Travis Parrott and Senior Airman Duncan about Dover Air Force Base's involvement in Operation Allies Refuge.

Aircrews from Dover’s 3rd Airlift Squadron went on more than 90 missions transporting over 7,000 passengers and more than 200 pallets of cargo.

Before the mission, they were told to expect the unexpected, and Parrott, one of the pilots, understood it would be different from others.

“This is much bigger than just a normal mission, this is going to be fast, this is going to have to be accurate, going to have to get a flow, and we were going to have to execute the way we were trained," said Parrott.

But Parrott says the importance of their mission really hit home the first time they reached Afghanistan.

“When the doors open and the first time you see 400 people at the back of your door with nothing that they’ve had this whole time - nothing left from their homes, their kids, no diapers, some are pregnant, it’s a hundred degrees, you know, the weight of seeing that and what they’re there for to get out immediately, fear of their life, or just need to get out - then, that weight hits you,” said Parrott.

Credit Rebecca Baer / Delaware Public Media
Delaware Public Media
Capt. Travis Parrott (center) and Senior Airman Duncan Copley (right) joined Delaware Public Media's Tom Byrne to discuss their involvement in Operation Allies Refuge.

Copley adds he gratified to have helped so many refugees to safety.

“Personally, I moved 940 refugees out of Kabul and seeing that they’re back here and living a healthy life and things are looking good, that’s really awesome to see," said Copley.

The Air Force evacuated over 124,000 people as part of the mission, including both U.S. citizens and Afghan refugees.

Dover Air Force Base also supplied 50 maintenance personnel and 5 medical personnel as part of the operation. 

Parrott notes other Dover units and their spouses also reached out to the Dover community to gather needed hygiene products, baby care supplies, and financial donations.

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