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Alaska Air National Guard Unit Helps Evacuate 1,700 People from War-torn Afghanistan

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The U.S. evacuation in Afghanistan that ended Monday got some help over the past few weeks from an Alaska National Guard unit based at Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson.

An Alaska Air National Guard spokesperson says the Guard’s 176th Wing provided two big C-17 cargo planes and four aircrews to help U.S. forces evacuate Americans and others from Afghanistan.

The spokesperson says an additional crew left JBER over the weekend.

A Pentagon spokesperson last week said that no Alaska-based National Guard or active duty personnel or equipment have been used in the evacuation effort. Air National Guard spokesperson Candis Olmstead said Monday she was unaware of the Pentagon’s response. But she says an Air National Guard news release issued Friday correctly states that the Air Guard contributed two C-17 and four aircrews to fly and maintain the aircraft.

The Air Guard news release says the two C-17s are assigned to the Alaska Air National Guard’s 144th Airlift Squadron that’s also based at JBER. The release says the crews include both Guard members and active-duty military personnel from another JBER based unit, the 517th Airlift Squadron.

The news release says Alaska-based crews had helped evacuate about 1,700 people from Afghanistan as of Friday morning. And it says a total of about 111,000 have been transported from the region since U.S. and coalition forces began the evacuation.