by Capt. Bryan Bouchard
455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
1/8/2016 - BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- Four
Bagram Airmen from the 455th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron
sprang into action following a terrorist attack on a compound in Kabul,
Afghanistan Jan. 4.
The Airmen were in Kabul as part of U.S. Central Command's materiel
recovery element, inspecting equipment for air transport out of
Afghanistan. While eating dinner at an eatery on the military side of
the Hamid Karzai International Airport, they heard and felt a blast.
Something wasn't right.
"We were done eating and sitting there then we heard (the blast) and we
felt it," said Master Sgt. Matthew Longshaw, deployed from the Utah Air
National Guard at Salt Lake City International Airport. "The building
shook, and then Sergeant Huggins came in after that; he was pretty
Tech. Sgt. Chad Huggins, deployed from Dover Air Force Base, Del., was
outside talking on the phone when he saw and felt the blast.
"You heard it, and saw the flash and the next thing it was like a
movie," he said. "I got pushed into the wall and my phone went flying. I
don't even know how to explain it."
Huggins said he picked up his phone and ran back into the restaurant to
find his comrades. About a quarter-mile away, a 15-foot-deep crater sat
where the vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detonated.
"I was staring at these guys," Huggins said about the situation, "and
they were staring back. Then they started speaking and I couldn't
understand them; my ears were ringing. They asked, 'Are you okay,' and I
said, 'Yeah, we need to go.'"
The team left the restaurant and went back to their temporary billeting,
still reeling over what they had just experienced. Then came the call
"One of the civilians came in from (Readiness Management Support) and
asked for our help," Longshaw explained. "So we got up and started to
help; did what we could and whatever we were asked to do."
Staff Sgt. Tobi Wagner, deployed from Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark.,
had just lied down in his bunk. "Aradanas grabbed my ankle and said
'Hey, we need to help those contractors. C'mon, let's go.' So I got up,
put on some shorts and went to go help. I was still a little out of it
so I wasn't sure what was going on, but I knew I wanted to help."
Airman 1st Class John Michael Aradanas, deployed from McChord Air Force
Base in Washington, is here serving on his first deployment. He said his
adrenaline was "through the roof" at that moment.
"I was just trying to help," he said. "It went by quick, just watching
all of these people come in and doing what I could to comfort them."
The four Airmen all pitched in to help set up the temporary area, where
nurses constantly checked on the civilians, mostly contractors, who were
injured in the terrorist attack. Then they stuck around for the next
eight hours, sitting with patients and comforting them; doing whatever
was needed of them.
"It brought you back down to reality real quick," Wagner said. "They
came in and were covered in debris and they were hurt. You'd see fresh
cuts and blood. Everyone was kind of disheveled because they couldn't
get any of their stuff."
The team commented how one man was knocked from his bed when the blast
occurred near his living quarters. He walked his hallway in bare feet on
broken glass until someone was able to find him some boots for him to
wear. Another man was saved by a treadmill, where it created a pocket in
the rubble under which he was buried for three hours until a crane was
brought in to sift through the debris.
While scenes like this aren't necessarily the norm for most Airmen
deployed to Afghanistan, it's something which the Airmen felt prepared
"When I was here two years ago they (terrorists) were much more active,"
said Wagner, on his second deployment. "It felt as if we were getting
attacked constantly. So I was expecting a little bit of the same. Then I
got (to Bagram) and there wasn't much of anything."
That was the case for them until Monday, when the attack occurred and their reflexes and training kicked in.
"It's human instinct that if you see someone worse off than you, that
you're going to help them," Huggins said. "But the Air Force did help
with the training to understand how to deal with it and what to do in
The team said they set up lodging for the victims of the blast,
consisting of about 70 beds, then comforted the victims and assisted the
medical staff with anything else that was needed.
"I think we did everything that we could've possibly done," Wagner said.
"You sit and you listen; which is really what we did. I think that
helped a lot of people."
Although the attack, which claimed one life and injured more than two
dozen others, occurred just a few days ago, each of the Airmen has had a
chance to reflect on the incident.
"I figure that the guys getting hurt are the ones kicking in doors or
doing convoys and stuff like that," said Longshaw, who's deployed
previously with the Air National Guard as well as the Marine Corps. "I
didn't really think about our contractors getting blown up on the
civilian side of an airport. I didn't expect that to happen."
For Huggins, serving on his seventh deployment, he figured incidents like this happened to other people; not to him.
"I've been deployed a lot," he said. "You know the dangers and reality,
but you don't expect to be put in that situation. 'Oh, that ain't going
to happen to me.' Now that it has, it's a reality check. You look at