HomeNewsFeaturesDisplay

Deployed PSFB defenders support Afghan evacuees

A member from the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing guides qualified evacuees debarking a C-17 Globemaster lll Aug. 23, 2021, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar.

A member from the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing guides qualified evacuees debarking a C-17 Globemaster lll Aug. 23, 2021, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. The DoD is committed to supporting the U.S. State Department in the departure of U.S. and allied civilian personnel from Afghanistan, and to evacuate Afghan allies to safety. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kylie Barrow)

A member from the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing guides qualified evacuees debarking a C-17 Globemaster lll Aug. 23, 2021, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar.

A member from the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing guides qualified evacuees debarking a C-17 Globemaster lll Aug. 23, 2021, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. The DoD is committed to supporting the U.S. State Department in the departure of U.S. and allied civilian personnel from Afghanistan, and to evacuate Afghan allies to safety. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kylie Barrow)

PATRICK SPACE FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Security Forces Airmen, often referred to as defenders, are responsible for protecting service members, their families, and resources at stateside bases and overseas locations.

Defenders assigned to the 45th Security Forces Squadron at Patrick Space Force Base, Florida, deployed to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, supported Operation Allies Refuge - the largest non-combatant evacuation airlift in U.S. history.

One of those defenders, U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Whitney Curtis, 45th SFS Raven-B operator, was preparing to security search some aircraft at AUAB when the need to save an infant’s life caught her attention.

“I asked if I could hold the baby to try and evaluate her to the best of my ability, and the mom handed her to me,” Curtis said.

The baby, which was born two days earlier at the Kabul Airport, was going in and out of consciousness, Curtis said.

“Her mother told me that she hadn’t had anything to eat or drink,” Curtis said.

Recognizing the baby could be in a critical state, Curtis rushed her to a medical tent. Doctors found the baby had low blood sugar, low blood pressure, and shortness of breath.

“We changed her diaper and went to get her some formula so we could feed her,” Curtis said. “In that moment, I prayed that this would save her; her life was just beginning.”

While Curtis never learned if the baby survived, she returned to the flight line to perform her duties.

Not every situation defenders encounter rises to the urgent need that Curtis experienced. Some are simply small acts of kindness that can go a long way—such as the moment when U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Alex Contreras, 45th SFS craftsman, showed compassion for an Afghan family.

“We were walking Afghan citizens to the plane,” Contreras said. "I was at the bottom of the stairs when I noticed this family with a newborn and a little girl. I told them to stand under the wing for some shade, and then gave them some cold water until we started boarding.”

Contreras noticed the father had his hands full with several bags, the mother was cradling the newborn, and the girl was complaining about the heat on the flight line.

Knowing temperatures on the flight line can easily exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit, Contreras offered to carry the girl up the stairs and into the aircraft.

“Having a 2 year-old daughter myself, it’s hard to imagine how I would be in that situation,” he said. “I was happy to make a difference.”

The DOD helped relocate approximately 124,000 people from Afghanistan to safe havens in the Middle East, Europe and the United States during Aug. 2021.