The image of an American soldier boarding a military cargo plane is going viral as the US finally ended its 20-year war in Afghanistan, despite around 200 Americans being left behind.
Maj. Gen Christopher Donahue was the last American soldier to board the final US Air Force flight out of Afghanistan, at one minute before midnight on Monday.
The ghostly green and black image of Donahue, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division 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.
The photo is shot through a night-vision lens, giving the scene an eerie green tint, according to USA Today.
The milestone moment also "closes the US mission to evacuate American citizens, Afghan Special Immigrant Visa applicants, and vulnerable Afghans," US Central Command wrote in a statement accompanying the release of the picture.
Who is Chris Donahue?
Donahue is the commander of the US Army 82nd Airborne Division. He was deployed to Afghanistan this month to help secure the Kabul airport, reported USA Today. Donahue, a graduate of the US military academy at West Point, has had an illustrious Army career that began in 1992, reported the New York Post. He completed a Army War College Fellowship at Harvard University, 2013.
After attending Harvard University, he returned to Fort Bragg and commanded a brigade within USASOC and has served as director of operations for the US Joint Special Operations Command.
The two-star general has been deployed at least 17 times in support of operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and other locations, according to a 2020 profile of him on the Army's official website. He has also served in Korea and Panama, before being promoted to Special Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Donahue's Photo Becomes Defining Image of War
In the now-viral 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.
According to multiple media reports, before the aircraft departed, Donahue sent a final message over mIRC chat: "Job well done, I'm proud of you all."
After the final flight, Donahue received a phone call from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who had watched the final 90 minutes of the military evacuation from a basement operations center in the Pentagon, a US official told The Associated Press.
"In awe of our Sky Dragon Soldiers," the XVIII Airborne Corps tweeted alongside the photo of Donahue. "This was an incredibly tough, pressurized mission filled with multiple complexities, with active threats the entire time. Our troops displayed grit, discipline and empathy.