by Senior Airman Jacob Wongwai
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs October 15, 2021
Flights transporting Afghan evacuees to the United States from Ramstein Air Base, resumed Oct. 9.
The outbound flights began again after a temporary pause at the request of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention due to the discovery of a small number of measles cases in the United States among recently arrived evacuees from Afghanistan.
“The flights did stop but operations were always continuous. We were always making sure of caring for the travelers, always finding a way to improve their quality of life here,” said Senior Master Sgt. Jason Harre, Operation Allies Welcome evacuee processing center lead. “Finding ways to prepare them for integration into U.S. life.”
As evacuees waited for just over three weeks, Ramstein, along with various other agencies, worked together to provide for the evacuees during their extended stay.
“Whether it’s the Department of Defense, Department of State, or our partners, it was our common humanity which really allowed us to come together,” said Lt. Col. John Frazier 86th Force Support Squadron. “Just seeing the soldiers, Airmen, Guardians, and teachers as well, literally pouring out their hearts taking care of these other human beings has been inspiring and awesome to see.”
With the help of the U.S. Army, Homeland Security, Transportation Security Administration, Department of State, German nationals and military members, Ramstein was able to construct a new, TSA compliant, purpose-built passenger terminal to streamline the pre-flight screening process and continue evacuation efforts.
“We have people here from various AFSCs, people from various nations, from various forces and from various agencies helping with multiple vetting processes,” Harre said. “It takes a total team mentality.”
Since flights resumed on Oct. 9, approximately 2,500 evacuees have flown out of Ramstein as of Oct. 12.
Ramstein AB has been serving as the largest reception port for Afghan evacuees within U.S. European Command since Aug. 20, and has received approximately 35,000 evacuees to date during the largest airlift mission in Air Force history.