HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --
Personnel and mission partners from the 49th Wing and Holloman community were formally recognized for their efforts through the preparation and beginning stage of Operation Allies Welcome during an official recognition ceremony Jan. 26, 2022, here.
"The principal reason we're here is to thank the men and women of the 49th Wing for their efforts, and to Colonel Keeney and his leadership team for making some of the important, early decisions that drove (mission) success," said Matt McKeon, Department of Homeland Security federal coordinator – Holloman Safe Haven Operation Allies Welcome. "If you look at any operation in history, it's often the (decisions) made initially that are the most impactful. They establish the operational concept of how things are going to go."
McKeon described Holloman’s efforts as a grand relay team laying the ground work for their part in the largest airlift mission in history. Setting the lines of communication across the base, transportation operations, meet-and-greet and in-process facilities, and living quarters were just a few of the many capabilities Holloman personnel had to put in motion.
For McKeon, the most impactful piece he observed throughout the mission was the collaboration, cooperation, leadership and eagerness of the Holloman community -- enabling a smooth transition for evacuees.
After McKeon’s speech, he and Brig. Gen. Daniel Gabrielli, Task Force Holloman commander, presented Lauren Pedersen, from the Holloman Spouses Organization, certificates of appreciation for 12 HSO members. The contributions they made included assisting in the collection and distribution of approximately 400-tons of donations, organizing a baby shower for over 30 Afghan guests in their second and third trimesters of pregnancy and distributing 800-dozen cookies to TFH members during the holidays.
“We couldn’t have started this task without the original task force – the 49th Wing and its leadership,” said Gabrielli. “You simply set us up for all our success by making all the logistical decisions, beginning construction of the (Life Support Area), garnering talented Airmen from across Air Education and Training Command and continuing to support us.”
During the ceremony McKeon; Mark Ward, Department of State lead; and Gabrielli, presented a personalized gift to the Holloman community, commemorating the tireless efforts that ensured a smooth start for the OAW mission.
“I knew this was going to be a historic mission, but I didn’t realize how historic it would be,” said Col. Ryan Keeney, 49th Wing commander. “I couldn’t be prouder that the name Holloman remained with this task force. The Afghans that have departed here will remember [the name] for the rest of their lives.”
OAW, TFH Statistics
Aug. 31, 2021 – Jan. 26, 2022
Holloman AFB was one of eight installations selected to house and relocate approximately 25,000 Afghan personnel.
Task Force Holloman assisted in the resettling of nearly 7,100 Afghan guests.
Approximately 400-tons of donations were provided.
Approximately 1,700 joint and total force service members from across the United States supported the mission.
Task Force Holloman supported Afghan personnel with several functions including medical care, living and recreational facilities, security and command and control operations, religious accommodations, transportation and logistics and communications services.
Volunteers and service members assisted with teaching English classes.
For more information about Operation Allies Welcome, visit www.dhs.gov/allieswelcome/