19 Gut-Wrenching Photos of US Service Members Helping Afghan Refugees

FacebookTwitterPinterestEmailShare
 A Marine assigned to the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) calms down an infant.
A Marine assigned to the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) calms down an infant at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Afghanistan, Aug. 28. U.S. service members are assisting the Department of State with a Non-combatant Evacuation Operation (NEO) in Afghanistan. (U.S. Marine Corps/Cpl. Davis Harris)

Editor's note: The original lead image for this story, published Aug. 23, showed two female Marines cradling infants during the evacuation. One of those Marines was later identified as Sgt. Nicole Gee, who was among the 13 U.S. service members killed in a suicide bombing Aug. 26. You can read more here about Gee and the 12 other troops killed in that attack.

As the U.S. military assists and evacuates thousands of refugees fleeing the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, Pentagon photographers have captured both heartwarming and gut-wrenching images of troops offering a helping hand to Afghan women, men, infants, children and elderly.

The evacuation has not been peaceful. Firefights have broken out at the international airport in Kabul, leaving at least three dead. A stampede near the airport gates killed at least seven. And several Afghans plunged to their deaths this month after clinging to a U.S. C-17 Globemaster III during takeoff. Human remains also were found in that aircraft's wheel well after it landed at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar.

Related: Afghan Woman Goes into Labor During US Military Flight, Gives Birth Aboard Plane at Ramstein Air Base

But the photos, published to military Facebook pages, Defense.gov or its online media repository, the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS), show Marines, sailors, airmen and soldiers offering care and compassion to evacuees.

UK coalition forces, Turkish coalition forces, and U.S. Marines assist a child.
UK coalition forces, Turkish coalition forces, and U.S. Marines assist a child during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 20. (U.S. Marine CorpS/Staff Sgt. Victor Mancilla)

 

A U.S. Marine Corps Marine with Special Purpose MAGTF - Crisis Response - Central Command plays with children at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan.
A U.S. Marine Corps Marine with Special Purpose MAGTF - Crisis Response - Central Command plays with children at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. (U.S. Department of Defense)

 

U.S. military service members comfort infants at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan.
U.S. military service members comfort infants at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. (U.S. Department of Defense)

 

Afghan mother delivers baby on evacuation flight.
Medical support personnel from the 86th Medical Group help an Afghan mother and family off a U.S. Air Force C-17, call sign Reach 828, moments after she delivered a child aboard the aircraft upon landing at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Aug. 21, 2021. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Air Force)

 

An Afghan child sleeps on the cargo floor of a U.S. Air Force C-17
An Afghan child sleeps on the cargo floor of a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III, kept warm by the uniform of the C-17 loadmaster, during an evacuation flight from Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 15, 2021. (U.S. Air Force Courtesy Photo)

 

U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III safely transported 823 Afghan citizens
A U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III safely transported 823 Afghan citizens from Hamid Karzai International Airport, Aug. 15, 2021. (U.S. Air Force)
Marines with Special Purpose MAGTF - Crisis Response - Central Command guide evacuees on to a United States Air Force Boeing C-17 Globemaster III
Marines with Special Purpose MAGTF - Crisis Response - Central Command guide evacuees on to a United States Air Force Boeing C-17 Globemaster III during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 21. (U.S. Marine Corps/Sgt. Samuel Ruiz)

 

U.S. Marine Corps Marines and United States Air Force airmen lead Afghan citizens.
U.S. Marine Corps Marines and United States Air Force airmen lead Afghan citizens aboard a C-17 Globemaster III at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. (U.S. Department of Defense)

 

U.S. Army soldiers assigned to 3rd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division escort a young family to the terminal for check-in at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan.
U.S. Army soldiers assigned to 3rd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division escort a young family to the terminal for check-in at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. (U.S. Department of Defense)

 

U.S. Marine Corps Marines from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit and U.S. Navy Corpsmen with Special Purpose MAGTF - Crisis Response - Central Command provide fresh water to children at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan.
U.S. Marine Corps Marines from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit and U.S. Navy Corpsmen with Special Purpose MAGTF - Crisis Response - Central Command provide fresh water to children at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. (U.S. Department of Defense)

 

U.S. military service members comfort infants at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan.
U.S. military service members comfort infants at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. (U.S. Department of Defense)

 

A Marine fists bumps a child evacuee.
A Marine fists bumps a child evacuee during a military drawdown at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Afghanistan, Aug. 18, 2021. U.S. service members are assisting the Department of State with an orderly drawdown of designated personnel in Afghanistan. (U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Nicholas Guevara)

 

Afghan evacuees disembark a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III.
Afghan evacuees disembark a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III at Naval Air Station Sigonella, Aug. 22, 2021. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel Young)

 

A U.S. Navy Sailor assists an Afghan evacuee.
A U.S. Navy Sailor assists an Afghan evacuee aboard Naval Air Station Sigonella, Aug. 22, 2021. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel Young)

 

A U.S. Marine assigned to 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) comforts an infant.
A U.S. Marine assigned to 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) comforts an infant while they wait for the mother during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 21. (U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Nicholas Guevara)

 

Senior Airman Romero assists an Afghan evacuee.
Senior Airman Romero assists an Afghan evacuee aboard Naval Air Station Sigonella, Aug. 22, 2021. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel Young)

 

Naval Air Station Sigonella Command Master Chief Anna Wood assists evacuees.
Naval Air Station Sigonella Command Master Chief Anna Wood assists evacuees disembarking a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III, Aug. 22, 2021. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel Young

 

A family of Afghan evacuees receive food and masks.
A family of Afghan evacuees receive food and masks at Naval Air Station Sigonella, Aug. 22, 2021. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel Young)

 

U.S. Marine Corps Marines from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit and U.S. Navy Corpsmen with Special Purpose MAGTF - Crisis Response - Central Command provide fresh water to children at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan.
U.S. Marine Corps Marines from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit and U.S. Navy Corpsmen with Special Purpose MAGTF - Crisis Response - Central Command provide fresh water to children at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. (U.S. Department of Defense)

 

Show Full Article