76 ways Team Luke helped bring joy to Afghan evacuees

The first Afghan citizens arrived at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., on Sept. 1, 2021, as part of Operation Allies Welcome, and 76 Airmen assigned to the 56th Fighter Wing at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., soon joined the effort to help.

“The words ‘Allies’ and ‘Welcome’ hold great power and purpose here,” said Lt. Col. Dan McGuire, 56th Logistics Readiness Squadron commander. “We are making good on our promise to protect and defend those who enabled our efforts throughout the War in Afghanistan.”

Airman 1st Class Makaila Duffey, 56th LRS logistics planner, is one of the 76 Airmen deployed to Holloman AFB to support our Afghan allies.

“There were times I would greet the guests off the plane! I would get so overwhelmed with the different emotions I would see on their faces,” said Duffey. “Many of them were exhausted from the long journey, fearful of a new place, and some were crying tears of joy; but most of all I saw the huge smiles and the love they would send back our way with gratitude and happiness.”

As a logistics planner, Duffey says that much of her job consists of planning deployments for other Airmen, whether it’s tracking who’s coming in or sending them down range where they’re needed. On 27 August, she was asked to be a part of Task Force Holloman.

McGuire mentioned that Duffey was eager and willing to take on this sudden deployment, despite the short notice and demanding job requirements.

Duffey had three days to notify her family and get her personal life in order. Upon her arrival at Holloman, Duffey worked 12-hour days, seven-days a week, tracking accountability of all personnel coming in to support OAW.

“Being a logistic planner, I was pretty familiar with the deployment process,” said Duffey. “But with it being my first deployment, I was still nervous, but very eager to go. In the end, it’s all about the outlook and energy you bring to the fight that will make the experience 100 percent worth it.”

Hundreds of airmen across the country left their families to support the Afghan allies. According to U.S. Northern Command, the Department of Defense is tasked to provide transportation, temporary housing, medical screening, and general support for up to 50,000 Afghan evacuees at suitable facilities, in permanent or temporary structures, as quickly as possible.

This operation is an initiative to follow through on the nation’s commitment to its Afghan allies by providing immediate support and a safety here in the U.S.

“I couldn’t imagine what the guests have experienced; losing the place that has been their home,” said Duffey. “It has been an honor to be a part of something so life changing for many and being able to welcome them with open arms; to offer them protection and a place where I would hope they feel safe and welcomed.”

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