Carrying his rifle down by his side, Major General Chris Donahue, commander of the storied 82nd Airborne Division, made history on Tuesday by becoming the last United States soldier to board the final flight out of Afghanistan a minute before midnight on Monday.
The last American soldier to leave Afghanistan: Maj. Gen. Chris Donahue, commanding general of the @82ndABNDiv, @18airbornecorps boards an @usairforce C-17 on August 30th, 2021, ending the U.S. mission in Kabul. pic.twitter.com/j5fPx4iv6a
— Department of Defense 🇺🇸 (@DeptofDefense) August 30, 2021
Taken with a night vision device from a side window of the C-17 transport plane, the ghostly green and black image of the general striding toward the aircraft waiting on the tarmac at Kabul's Hamid Karzai Airport was released by the Pentagon hours after the United States ended its 20-year military presence in Afghanistan.
Here's all we know about the man who made history.
Major General Donahue is the commanding officer of the 82nd Airborne Division which comes under the Fort Bragg, North Carolina-based 18th Airborne Corps of the US army.
Speaking about commanding the division, he had told Fayetteville Observer that he relished the high tempo of the job. "It is absolutely the most enjoyable, rewarding and best job I've ever had, hands down. I've had some pretty cool jobs, but I tell you this is the coolest job ever."
A graduate of the United States Military Academy, Donahue was commissioned as a Second lieutenant into the Infantry Branch in 1992.
Donahue was deployed to Afghanistan in August to help secure the Kabul airport as the US drew nearer to Tuesday's withdrawal deadline.
Prior to this, Donahue has been a special assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Pentagon and also served as the commander of special operations joint task force-Afghanistan in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.
Donahue has been deployed 17 times to oversee operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, northern Africa and eastern Europe.
Apart of working as a commander, Donahue has also undertaken the following assignments:
• The Commandant of the United States Army Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia
• Deputy commanding General (manoeuvre) of the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson
• Deputy Director for Special Operations and Counterterrorism
• J-37 Joint Staff
• Operation Resolute Support -- a NATO-led multinational mission in Afghanistan in 2019-2020
Image etched in history
The image of Donahue boarding the last US plane out of Afghanistan, shared by the Pentagon, has now gone viral -- with over 12,000 retweets and 43,000 likes on Twitter.
In the image, Donahue appears to be moving briskly, his face expressionless. He is wearing full combat gear, with night vision goggles atop his helmet, and rifle by his side.
General Frank McKenzie, commander of the US Central Command, in a press briefing later said, "General Donahue, one of the last things he did before leaving was talk to the Taliban commander that he had been coordinating with about the time that we were going to leave just to let them know that we were leaving."
Before the aircraft departed, Donahue sent a final message over mIRC chat: “Job well done, I’m proud of you all.”
With inputs from agencies