Stories From Kabul: Local airmen, Afghan national recall evacuation from Kabul airport

"There were definitely some hairy situations," one airman told Action News.

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Monday, September 13, 2021
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With service members back in the United States, and evacuated families reunited, we are starting to hear about what it was like in Afghanistan.

JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, New Jersey (WPVI) -- With service members back in the United States, and evacuated families reunited, we are starting to hear more first-hand accounts of what it was like in Afghanistan.

That includes U.S. Air Force Capt. Michael Sattes who, along with Capt. Adam Cooper, are members of the 621st Contingency Response Wing out of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.

They were among the forces on the ground at the airport in Kabul responsible for evacuating more than 120,000 people from Afghanistan over the course of approximately two weeks.

"There were definitely some hairy situations," says Capt. Sattes. "But I think overall we really worked well as a team and did some really good stuff."

Captain Cooper says one memory that stands out is helping a member of the Afghan National Army.

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Cooper recalls, "He had four children. He had his parents as well, and his spouse, and we're getting them loaded up to the front of the aircraft and he came over to me give me a hug and said 'thank you.'"

Mohamed Sadeed has a similar story.

He worked for the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan and was in the United States on business when the Taliban took over, leaving his wife and five children in a dangerous situation.

Sadeed says it took three attempts to get his family safely into the hands of the U.S. military at the airport in Kabul.

"The first time they tried, seven people were killed in front of their eyes and they had to return back home," he said. "The second time they tried, 11 people were killed. The military did their best and we really appreciate it."

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Captain Sattes says being a part of this mission was an honor.

"I did see on people's faces when I would help them, they were very much relieved and happy to be on an American C-17 and leaving the country," he says.

Sadeed and his family have since been reunited and now live in Philadelphia.

Meanwhile, Sattes and Cooper say they are hopeful that anyone who remains in Afghanistan who wishes to leave can do so safely in the absence of the U.S. military presence.