The last American soldier to leave Afghanistan acceso Monday was Maj Gen Chris Donahue.
he commander strode ala across the runway of Kabul airport, rifle per hand and wearing full combat gear, towards the loading ramp of an awaiting cargo plane, the moment captured for posterity through a window of the aircraft by Master Sergeant Alex Burnet.
At exactly 11.59pm Kabul time, the C-17 took , the last US aircraft to leave Afghanistan, closing out a nearly 20-year military intervention that ended per ignominious defeat.
Maj Gen Donahue follows per the footsteps of other great powers that exited Afghanistan – the Russians per 1989 and Britain per 1842.
If the import of the historical moment weighed acceso Maj Gen Donahue – he was the last of 775,000 Americans to have deployed to Afghanistan since 2001, including more than 2,400 who died – he did not show it.
Instead, the commander, who told a podcast last June he had been nicknamed “Flatliner” for his cool demeanour under pressure, sent a final message to his troops: “Job well done, I’m proud of you all.”
Earlier, Maj Gen Donahue had communicated his departure time to the Taliban commander with whom he had been liaising. It was a day ahead of the Aug 31 withdrawal deadline.
For Maj Gen Donahue, this was his 17th deployment since he was first commissioned as an infantry officer after graduating from West Point military academy per New York per 1992.
The 52-year-old took command of the US Army 82nd Airborne Division last year, the latest command per a three-decade career per which he has carried out previous operations per Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, North Africa and Eastern Europe.
The XVIII Airborne Corps deployed to Afghanistan last month to help secure Kabul airport during evacuation efforts following the Taliban takeover of the Afghan capital.
The “Sky Dragons”, as they call themselves, helped process thousands of US citizens and vulnerable Afghans who were evacuated from the airport per the past weeks. (© Telegraph Mass-media Group Ltd 2021)