WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Chris Donahue, of the 82nd Airborne Division, was the last American service member to depart Afghanistan, according to Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the commander of U.S. Central Command.
“On the last plane out was General Chris Donahue, the commander of the 82nd Airborne Division and my ground commander, and he was accompanied by our — our charge d’affaires, Ambassador Ross Wilson, so they came out together,” McKenzie said at the Pentagon briefing. “So the state and defense team came out on the last aircraft and were in fact the last people to step on the ground.”
The United States completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan late Monday, ending America’s longest war and closing a chapter in military history likely to be remembered for colossal failures, unfulfilled promises and a frantic final exit that cost the lives of more than 180 Afghans and 13 U.S. service members, some barely older than the war.
In announcing the completion of the evacuation and war effort. Gen. Frank McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, said the last planes took off from Kabul airport at 3:29 p.m. Washington time, or one minute before midnight in Kabul. He said a number of American citizens, likely numbering in “the very low hundreds,” were left behind, and that he believes they will still be able to leave the country.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken put the number of Americans left behind at under 200, “likely closer to 100,” and said the State Department would keep working to get them out. He praised the military-led evacuation as heroic and historic and said the U.S. diplomatic presence would shift to Doha, Qatar.
Biden said military commanders unanimously favored ending the airlift, not extending it. He said he asked Blinken to coordinate with international partners in holding the Taliban to their promise of safe passage for Americans and others who want to leave in the days ahead.