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111th Attack Wing supports Operation Allies Refuge

A boy salutes U.S. Troops.

An Afghan child comes to attention and salutes during the American national anthem Sept. 14, 2021, at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. The child followed suit after seeing Airmen do the same. The Department of Defense, through U.S. Northern Command, and in support of the Department of Homeland Security, is providing transportation, temporary housing, medical screening, and general support for at least 50,000 Afghan evacuees at suitable facilities, in permanent or temporary structures, as quickly as possible. This initiative provides Afghan personnel essential support at secure locations outside Afghanistan.

Four Air National Guard members shake hands.

Pennsylvania Air National Guardsmen Tech Sgt. Rafeeq Strickland, a unit religious affairs Airman for the 111th Attack Wing, and Airman 1st Class Mackenzie O. Ditolla, a public health technician with the 111th Medical Group, were are among those congratulated by Col. Rebecca Gray, 111th ATKW Vice Commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Robert Fergusson, 111th ATKW Command Chief, for supporting Operation Allies Refuge at Joint Base McGuire Dix Lakehurst, New Jersey, Sept. 14, 2021. Fifteen members of the 111th ATKW activated to support the effort to relocate interested and eligible Afghan nationals and their immediate families who supported the U.S. Government efforts in their homeland. (U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Meagan S. Davis)

Biddle Air National Guard Base --

Fifteen members of the 111th Attack Wing have activated in support of Operation Allies Refuge, the effort to relocate interested and eligible Afghan nationals and their immediate families who supported the U.S. Government efforts in their homeland, since Aug. 26, 2021.


The 111th Airmen and women are on federal orders through at least the end of September to provide general base support such as security, logistics support and ground transportation duties as needed at Joint Base McGuire Dix Lakehurst, New Jersey.


“We are fortunate to have an organization with a vast array of capabilities to assist in this challenging, and yet compassionate effort,” said Col. Rebecca Gray, 111th ATKW Vice Commander, who recently visited personnel supporting at JBMDL. “Many of our airmen have served in Afghanistan and this mission is one that is particularly meaningful to support.”


The 111th ATKW is based at Biddle Air National Guard Base in Horsham, Pennsylvania, about 40 miles away from JBMDL. The organization specializes in providing a wide array of support to combatant commanders, and federal, state and local authorities, for the range of military operations, homeland defense and disaster response. Capabilities include remotely piloted aircraft (MQ-9 Reaper), engineering, medical, security, logistics, planning and operational support.


“I’ve been on the ground here at JBMDL for about four weeks now serving as a medical subject matter expert and Air Force liaison on a Navy preventative medical team,” said Airman 1st Class Mackenzie O. Ditolla, a public health technician with the 111th Medical Group. “It truly has been an honor to support our Afghani brothers and sisters in their time of need.”


111th ATKW personnel will continue to support this operation for as long as the Department of Defense requires assistance from the Pennsylvania Air National Guard. Currently, 12 of the 15 members have agreed to extend their orders past Sept. 30, 2021.