On August 15, 2021, the Taliban overtook Kabul, Afghanistan, causing thousands of Afghan refugees to flee the country, according to The New York Times. This event forced hundreds of Afghan nationals, including those who have worked with the United States, to evacuate to Camp As Sayliyah, Qatar.

Upon arrival in Qatar, they were met by members of the 3rd Platoon, Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion, 172nd Infantry Regiment (Mountain), New Hampshire Army National Guard. These Guard Members assisted with gate security and facilitated the Afghan in-processing, under the oversight of their training noncommissioned officer, Staff Sgt. Michael Avard.

Avard remembers the first day the refugees arrived. At that time, he was unaware of the impact he would have on the global Afghan refugee crisis.

“They came in the middle of the night,” said Avard, thinking back to deployment. “They were like, ‘you have less than 24 hours to move all your stuff.”

Within the next few days, the refugees began staying where Charlie Company once resided.

During the months leading up to August, Avard’s duties included squad leader, training NCO, and performance of administrative tasks. However, Quick Reaction Force noncommissioned officer in charge, and overseeing the in-processing of thousands of refugees, were quickly added to his plate.

“He worked tirelessly over deployment,” said 1st Lt. Landon McBride, executive officer for Charlie Company. “He did anything and everything we needed, and then more.”

McBride joked that Avard is the “workhorse” of the company.