Air Force Museum seeks artifacts from Afghanistan withdrawal

Included is uniform blouse in notable photo.

Credit: U.S. Central Command Public Affa

Credit: U.S. Central Command Public Affa

The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force is collecting artifacts and memorabilia from the recent withdrawal of civilians and troops from Afghanistan.

Among items being collected, according to the Air Force: An Air Force uniform blouse used to cover a sleeping child on board a C-17 leaving Kabul.

The moment was captured in a photo some have called “iconic.”

Robert Bardua, a spokesman for the museum, said the museum identified the blouse — officially known as a two-piece flight duty uniform coat — among materials to document the Air Force’s contribution to Operation Allies Refuge, the American withdrawal of Afghanistan.

So far, the museum has received the uniform coat, a unit patch worn by a commander of a KC-10 refueling aircraft, and items used to accommodate large numbers of passengers, Bardua said.

All items received are accessioned, cataloged and preserved for future study and “potential display,” he said.

The museum is not promising that any of items will be placed on exhibit.

But Bardua added: “We can promise that donated items will be preserved and cared for as a valued part of the Air Force’s national historical collection for future generations.”

The blouse belonged to Airman First Class Nicolas Baron, a loadmaster assigned to the 305th Air Mobility Wing, an Air Force release said.

Baron, a native of southern Florida, joined the Air Force in November 2019. After basic military training and tech school, he began working as a C-17 loadmaster in February this year.

“He had no idea that within his first seven months on the job he would be performing his duties to secure an aircraft amongst hundreds of Afghan refugees as part of Operation Allies Refuge,” said a release from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.

”I was just doing what I had to do,” Baron said in the release. “Making sure everyone was seated and safe. My blouse had fallen from where I’d hung it up and as I was focusing on my tasks, a mother picked it up and laid it across her child to help keep them warm. It was heartwarming to see.”

Air Mobility Command’s history office contacted Stuart Lockhart, 305th Air Mobility Wing historian, to ask if Baron would be willing to donate his blouse to the museum at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

“Even before the end of the operation the curators at the national museum were looking for items to document Operation Allies Refuge,” Lockhart said. “One item that they mentioned in particular that they wanted, was (Baron’s) blouse.”

The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, located at Wright-Patterson, is the world’s largest and oldest military aviation museum. With free admission and parking, the museum features more than 350 aerospace vehicles and missiles and thousands of artifacts amid more than 19 acres of indoor exhibit space.

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