Prior to the last US plane leaving Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan — closing the chapter on America’s longest war — one soldier boarded the remaining C-17, which officially took off around 3:30 p.m. eastern time on Monday.
US Army Maj. Gen. Chris Donahue was the last American soldier to depart the country after a 20-year occupation that began shortly after the Al Qaeda attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Donahue is the commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, XVIII Airborne Corps.
The photo of Donahue was posted by the Department of Defense, which said Donahue boarding the plane marked the ending of the US mission in Kabul.
The White House said on Monday night that “thanks to the men and women serving in uniform,” the largest airlift in the nation’s history had been completed.
“During the past 17 days, our troops evacuated over 120,000 US citizens, citizens of our allies, and Afghan allies with unmatched courage, professionalism, and resolve,” the White House tweeted. “This is the largest non-combatant evacuation in the US military’s history.”
During the past 17 days, our troops evacuated over 120,000 U.S. citizens, citizens of our allies, and Afghan allies with unmatched courage, professionalism, and resolve. This is the largest non-combatant evacuation in the U.S. military’s history.— The White House (@WhiteHouse) August 31, 2021
But as the remaining US military transport aircraft took off from Afghanistan, up to 200 Americans and thousands of Afghans were left behind.
“We will continue our relentless efforts to help Americans, foreign nationals, and Afghans leave Afghanistan if they choose,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in an address from the State Department on Monday. “Our commitment to them holds no deadline.”