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Dover AFB Airmen recount deployment during OAR

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Faith Barron
  • 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

“[While] most people were watching it on TV, we were living it,” reflected Staff Sgt. Noah Pascarella, 436th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron avionics technician.

Pascarella and his counterpart, Staff Sgt. Guy Mobley, 436th AMXS aerospace propulsion craftsman, deployed to the 8th Expeditionary Air Mobility Squadron at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, on Aug. 1, 2021. Little did they know in almost two weeks they would play a role in Operation Allies Refuge, the largest noncombatant evacuation operation in history.

While working a typical 12-hour night shift on Aug. 14, 2021, the Airmen were notified that the work pace would increase in the coming days due to the Afghanistan evacuation.

“Initially, it was [just] another day,” said Pascarella. “Shortly after, the news became relevant and we started to realize it was a big deal. When we would see something come in [to the air base], we would then see it on the news”

During their time at the 8th EAMS, Pascarella and Mobley assisted the support section for the C-17 maintenance unit and also worked transient assistance for any Air Mobility Command assets and commercial aircraft.

“The days were long, catching multiple aircrafts a night,” said Mobley. “We would manage many of the commercial and military aircrafts that would be moving the Afghanistan evacuees out of Qatar. We also had to ensure we maintained and provided the necessary equipment to our C-17 counterparts, which had the heavy workload of maintaining the jets that would be going into Kabul.”

The Airmen faced many challenges over the next couple of weeks including a significant language barrier and hot temperatures that caused medical emergencies. Ultimately, they pushed the limits for things that have never been accomplished before.

Pascarella recounted when the first C-5M Super Galaxy landed at Al Udeid after the start of OAR. Both he and Mobley were familiar with the aircraft, as they worked on it daily back at their home station.

“We were the only C-5 [maintainers] in the country,” said Mobley. “It was our responsibility to make sure the aircraft was good to go.”

The aircraft was not initially scheduled to transport passengers. However, the C-5 crew made the decision to do so in order to provide more support.

“It was towards the end of our shift and we loaded 100-200 [evacuees] onto the aircraft,” said Pascarella. “Even though all of us were working over 12 hours, there was no one sitting down, no one complaining. It was just unspoken; it was the camaraderie. Everyone was pitching in.”

Though it was the end of their shift, Mobley and Pascarella were doing whatever they could to help the evacuees amid the day’s rising temperatures including ripping up cardboard boxes to be used as fans.

“[We did] whatever we could do to help,” said Pascarella. “I remember I went back to my dorm and I really thought about my son a lot. I felt a lot of love for those people and those families.”

Mobley describes it as a total team effort every single day and that he was honored to be given the opportunity to have a hand in it.

“It was humbling,” said Mobley. “You hear a lot of how the Air Force can be anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice and to see it [in] real time was empowering.“