The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

By Kathleen Stinson
Staff writer 

Airmen reflect on Afghanistan


Last updated 9/4/2021 at 4:23pm

Now that the United States has withdrawn its military forces from Afghanistan, the men and women who served in Afghanistan have time to reflect about their time there and what it meant to them.

Two airmen stationed at Cannon Air Force Base — 9th Special Operations Squadron Commander Lt. Col. David Robertson and 16th Special Operations Squadron Commander Lt. Col. Paul Andrews — spoke on Thursday with The News about their experience serving in Afghanistan.

Citing national security issues, Cannon personnel declined comment on involvement in the Afghanistan evacuation effort.

Robertson said he deployed to Afghanistan three times, the first of which was from 2010 to 2011.

As a pilot, Robertson said he “absolutely enjoyed the mission,” which was to air drop supplies and food.

One of the things he did was to air drop halal meals to their Afghan partners. He also off-loaded supplies on the ground.

When the Sept. 11 attacks happened, Robertson said he was in college and had already signed a contract to join the military. Ninety percent of the people he served with joined after 9/11. “I was awe-inspired by them.”

He said the second time he deployed to serve in Afghanistan, he helped coordinate, command and control different operations.

“It was very rewarding to me” to be part of the missions of the next generation of Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) airmen, he said. “It’s an opportunity to pass the torch.”

Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), located at Hurlburt Field, Florida, is the major command to which the 27th reports.

Andrews said he deployed to Afghanistan six times.

What he did was different than what Robertson did in that he flew close providing overhead support.

Andrews said they provided an armed “over watch of both U.S, Coalition and Partner forces” and provided “both safety and security to the U.S. Forces and the forces working with the U.S.”

This gave the local Afghanistan people the “safety and security” to help them free themselves from their oppressors, he said. “It was very rewarding.”

In 2010, he met some of the Afghanistan forces, which he said he enjoyed doing. They were “grateful” for their help.

Andrews said he is “proud of the professional execution of the mission with fellow airmen,” the coalition forces and the partner forces “protecting innocent civilians from harm and danger” during his time serving there.

Robertson said: “I am proud of the work I was able to be a part of” and the success of the mission “to help the people in Afghanistan as best we could.”

He said he was proud to be a part of a group of service people who “answered the call” to “volunteer and help in any way we can” the people with their “fight for freedom.” It also gave him a great sense of satisfaction to drop off meals and supplies.

Both men said they come from families who served in the military.

Andrews said he “served alongside some outstanding men and women who value core values.”


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