‘Trust In Our People, Trust In Our Training’; 62nd OG commander details personal, group involvement in Operation Allies Refuge

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Zoe Thacker
  • 62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Trust is one of the most fundamental components of a service member’s life. U.S. Airmen must have trust that their wingmen will have their back, their commanding officers will make safe and strategic decisions and that they have honed the skills needed to fly, fight and win, no matter what is thrown their way.


When faced with the reality of the happenings in Afghanistan -- the need to evacuate Afghan and U.S. citizens, remaining military personnel and millions of pounds of cargo – U.S. Air Force Col. Sergio Anaya, 62nd Operations Group commander, sent forth his Airmen enveloped in trust.


Anaya, a command pilot proficient in operating four different aircraft and with more than 3,800 flight hours and 930 combat hours, said what put him at ease during such a high-intensity situation was the trust he had in his Airmen.


“I couldn’t be in every cockpit,” Anaya said. “But I thought about how well our crews have been trained and the fact they know what they’re doing and were going to make the right calls. We had to have trust in our people and trust in our training.”


Anaya spoke to his squadron commanders throughout mid-to-late August 2021 as Operation Allies Refuge was in full swing and ensured them they had his full support in their decision-making, as well as the aircrews flying daily missions to and from Hamid Karzai International Airport, Afghanistan.


“I had the opportunity to fly with my crews [Airmen from the 4th, 7th and 8th Airlift Squadrons] once we pushed as many crews out as we could,” Anaya said. “I got to let them know that whatever they had to do – if they had to deviate from plans to accomplish this mission safely – I trusted them to do so.”


“Many 62nd AW crews had to deviate from what is considered normal or regulation because of the intensity of the situation on the ground and they made the right call when they did so,” Anaya continued.


The 62nd Airlift Wing sent 36 crews to assist in Operation Allies Refuge, which is now considered the largest non-combatant military airlift in U.S. history, with more than 122,000 individuals and millions of pounds of cargo evacuated from Afghanistan in less than three weeks.


Through this joint effort of all services working alongside each other during Operation Allies Refuge, Anaya has hope that his crews were able to provide a possibility for a brighter future for many people.


“This wasn’t just about the Air Force; every department and service had a hand in protecting and securing the perimeter so this mission could be carried out,” Anaya said. “Everyone came together as Americans to transport hundreds of thousands of evacuees to safety and that was great to see.”