MARTINSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — Members of the West Virginia Air National Guard (WVANG) received recognition for their role in the August 2021 military withdrawal from Afghanistan in a ceremony held at the Shepherd Field Air National Guard Base on Saturday.
For their actions in Operation Allies Refuge (OAR), 27 Airmen from the 167th Operations Group, part of the 167th Airlift Wing of the WVANG, were honored at Shepherd Field in Martinsburg, according to a WVANG release.
13 Airmen were presented with Air Medals with C devices and Afghanistan Campaign Medals, including: Lt. Col. Alexander Hanna, Maj. Patrick Barnes, Capt. Taylor Loving, Capt. Donald Tipton, Senior Master Sgt. Joesph Windle, Master Sgt. Gregory Barham, Senior Airman Courtney Shambaugh, Senior Airman Samuel Bartolomeo, Maj. Sam Harrison, Maj. Cabell Doyle, Capt. Kyle Koppenhaver, Tech. Sgt. Tim Larsen and Staff Sgt. Tristan Rowland.
14 other Airmen were presented with Air and Space Commendation Medals, including: Capt. Gavin Miller, Maj. Will Giles, Capt. Pete Evans, Capt. Trevor Whittington, Chief Master Sgt. Dave Martens, Staff Sgt. Charles Adams, Airman 1st Class Nate Catrow, Maj. Kyle Wagner, Maj. Casey Boley, Maj. David Groom, Master Sgt. Jon LaFollette, Tech. Sgt. James Doane, Tech. Sgt Isaiah Redman and Senior Airman Ben Kelsey.
“These aircrew members volunteered to take short notice missions, many taking leave from their civilian jobs, and were faced with some of the most challenging missions of their lives,” Col. Christopher Sigler, 167th Operations Group commander, said.
One of those recognized in Saturday’s ceremony was aircraft commander Lt. Col. Alex Hanna, whose crew helped deliver 250 Marines to the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul and evacuated 289 people during OAR, all while passing information to other inbound aircrews.
Also recognized was aircraft commander Maj. Samuel Harrison, whose crew managed to deliver food and water as well as airlift more than 1,100 people.
OAR resulted in the evacuation of more than “120,000 Afghan citizens, allied partners, and U.S. citizens” from Hamid Karzai International Airport, the release said.