4 SOPS volunteer aid to Operation Allies Refuge

  • Published
  • By Kristian DePue, Staff Writer
  • Peterson-Schriever Garrison Public Affairs

While on temporary duty from August 21 – 30, a mobile team of Space Delta 8 – Satellite Communications and Navigational Warfare, 4th Space Operations Squadron devoted time to Operation Allies Refuge at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. The 4 SOPS mobile team was preparing to depart for Ramstein AB as Operation Allies Refuge was being organized.


Operation Allies Refuge was the U.S. military endeavor to evacuate at-risk Afghan civilians, particularly those who supported U.S. and coalition operations in Afghanistan, along with their families.


The DEL 8, 4 SOPS team was made up of U.S. Space Force 1st Lt. Adam Morgan, mobile operations officer in charge; U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Wade Manchio, military satellite communications maintenance technician; U.S. Space Force Spc. 4 Joyce Bassett, mobile operator; U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Christian Kurka, mobile operator; U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Liam Marshman, military satellite communications maintainer; and U.S. Space Force Spc. 4 Isaac Torres, MILSATCOM maintenance technician.


4 SOPS operates a mobile mission to support the Advanced Extremely High Frequency and Military Strategic and Tactical Relay satellite constellations. The squadron maintains readiness to deploy their Mobile Constellation Control Station asset worldwide, in the event of an on-orbit issue. The squadron has mission partners at both Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, and Ramstein AB.


“These two sites, along with Schriever and Vandenberg Space Force Bases, enable us to communicate with our satellites anywhere within the Geostationary Belt with very short notice,” said Morgan. “We strive to visit our host units and mission partners on a regular basis, typically as a site survey.”


“Our focus was making sure our mobile mission could be supported, along with making contact with support squadrons,” said Kurka. “That said, we also volunteered in the evacuee camp. We showed up, handed out water, played ball with the children, helped with meal routines and handed out needed clothes to families.”


By the time the team landed in Germany on August 22, 2021, Operation Allies Refuge was in full effect. During the 20-year war in Afghanistan, thousands of Afghan nationals served as interpreters, provided intelligence and assisted the U.S. and its coalition partners in various capacities. Many of these allies were airlifted to Ramstein AB.


“Even during the short time we were on base that Sunday, we must’ve seen several hundred people coming to and from the flightline,” said Morgan. “Our first appointment was the next day with the 86th Operations Support Squadron. On our way, we walked by evacuees from Afghanistan. During the meeting, Torres and Marshman noticed a flier asking for volunteers in support of Operation Allies Refuge.”


Torres and Marshman brought the flier to Morgan’s attention, and he raised the idea to stateside leadership for approval. Overall, the 4 SOPS mobile team spent 42 hours volunteering at the evacuee encampments removing full trash bags, moving pallets of water bottles, augmenting the entry control point and helping families find distribution locations for supplies — keeping the campsite sanitary, safe, and supplied.


“When we had free time, we volunteered,” said Bassett. “This primarily consisted of playing ball with the kids to improve morale, handing out drinking water and helping organize meals for refugees.”


One day, all six members of the team devoted much of the afternoon to organizing the lines of evacuees waiting for meals, processing thousands of people in just a few short hours. The service the 4 SOPS team gave to the allies camped at Ramstein AB had its rewards.


“The most impacting experience for me was the opportunity to interact with children and their families,” said Morgan. “These children were suddenly uprooted from home and flown into a totally new country, and they just wanted to do all the things kids normally do. I probably spent seven or eight hours just playing with children who were uprooted from home. Everything from wall ball to volleyball to soccer or a simple game of catch. Sometimes, all they wanted was a high-five. These kids brought smiles to everyone’s faces.”