Alumni Honored for Heroic Departure from U.S. Embassy in Kabul
TROY alumnus Star Hai was due to spend a year in Kabul, Afghanistan, working on a visa fraud investigation at the US Embassy there.
Instead, Diplomatic Security Service special agents found themselves evacuating thousands of Americans, foreign allies and endangered Afghans just two weeks after falling to the ground. I was. She was the only female U.S. law enforcement officer to assist in evacuations and humanitarian efforts.
“With word coming out that the embassy is being evacuated, people are thinking, ‘This is our last chance to get out of the country.’ said Mr. “Hundreds became thousands. It was never out of our hands, but it was hard.”
A former Army officer, High volunteered to transfer to the State Department in 2009 to become a DSS Special Agent. She graduated from the Military Academy at West Point and entered the military police, training at Guantanamo Bay in the early 2000s. She was transferred to the state and she underwent DSS’s seven-month training program that included standard law enforcement training, special tactics, leadership, and high-threat training.
“You’ll learn weapon skills and even how to drive in dangerous situations, but the apex of the training is evacuating the embassy. There’s a mock embassy for training at the Diplomatic and Security Training Center at Fort Barfoot…so. Then we can learn what to do and how to open an embassy,” she said.
The Department of State is one of several federal agencies that use the Virginia National Guard Fort, formerly known as Fort Pickett, near Blackstone, Virginia.
The training, like Hai’s previous training, paid off when orders came to evacuate the Kabul embassy, which is essentially a city within a city with high-rise buildings and interior roads. With hostilities from the Taliban escalating, the team had less than 48 hours to complete their mission.
“I had just taken a month-long refresher course just before I got there, but I wasn’t doing the typical security stuff. she said. “The transition (to security operations) was very quick.”
High fell behind in military and State Department training, but what became apparent was that she was working with a team of similarly trained DSS agents. Although the agents had never trained together, they shared a common knowledge of who should do what and in what order.
“I was impressed with how well my colleagues and I worked together as a team to execute our plan,” she said.
Clearly her actions impressed others as well. In 2022, she received the Federal Law Enforcement Woman Julie Y. Cross Award. This is her third DSS Special Agent to receive this honor. DSS Supervising Agent Benjamin Said nominated Hy Her for the award. He was deputy regional security officer in Kabul at the time of the evacuation.
Said said in his nomination that Hai “risked his life at the forefront of incredible danger in an unpredictable security situation as the Taliban seized strategic strongholds across Kabul. for heroism and extraordinary courage.”
Mr. Hai evacuated embassy staff, destroyed sensitive and confidential documents, computer equipment and armored vehicles to prevent them from falling under Taliban control, and then removed weapons and other sensitive materials to Hamid Karzai International Airport. Kabul military base).
Upon arriving at the airport, Mr. Hai “guarded heroically amid continued flash grenades, tear gas and machine gun fire as US and Afghan forces struggled to control a volatile crowd at the gate.” continued the nomination.
She boarded one of the last non-military flights to leave Kabul, using her expertise in reviewing and verifying travel documents and identity documents to help process thousands of people trying to flee the country. DSS agents shared security duties with 82.nd Airborne and U.S. Marine Corps.
“What I learned when I arrived at the airport was the level of trust between the state and the military,” she said. “I can trust their training. We have a lot of young soldiers and young commanders who have never worked with civilians before. They trust us to let the right people in the gate. They gave me,” said Hai.
“They trust us 100 percent and we stand by them,” she said.
While training was certainly key to Hai’s success and survival, she values a teaching career as well.
Ms. Hy said that after completing her bachelor’s degree, she decided to pursue her master’s degree and turned to TROY for that purpose.
“My first job was at Fort Benning, where I wanted to move from being a congressman to being a lieutenant general. So I thought I would go to South Korea where I could continue my classes online,” she said.
At the time, Hai said the degrees he earned from many online education providers through the Army’s goArmyU program didn’t mean much.
“I knew Troy had a brick and mortar campus.
In fact, when Ms. Hai graduated from high school in Little Rock, Arkansas, she was familiar with the area’s colleges. Her father was a political science professor at Ole Miss College before going to Arkansas.
“I wanted a relevant master’s degree. All of the professors I worked with were part-time lecturers, and they brought real-world experience into the classroom, which was great for me. , the real-world experience was the reason I got the degree, so I was really grateful for that,” she said. “I wanted to see how others used teaching, research, and statistics in their day-to-day work,” she said.
Beyond the hands-on experience provided by the TROY faculty was an understanding of the sometimes unique challenges that military personnel face in earning a degree.
“The flexibility and understanding was great. If I had obligations or other conflicts, the instructors worked with me to help me graduate,” said Hai. “They wanted us to succeed.”
That was especially important for Hy’s situation. She chose to take the more challenging classes in person at night and saved the less challenging courses to complete online when she moved abroad.
“Professors were always available even when I had to find time to call them. They made time for me,” she said.
Mr. Hai, now a Reserve Army Intelligence Officer and a master’s degree holder from Johns Hopkins University and the National Institute of Intelligence, said he has always encouraged his soldiers to pursue degrees.
“I say, ‘Don’t wait.’ If you want a degree, don’t wait and get that one. It pays (where else would there be a job like that) so the hardest part about getting a degree is getting started with it,” she said. “With TROY and its hybrid learning environment, it’s always a ‘best time to start’ and people are willing to work with you. Even if you have to take a semester off, there are ways to succeed by increasing the load in one semester and reducing it in another. ”
“If you could do it back then[when it was goArmyU]it’s certainly easier now. Why not take advantage of the financial support and all the other support? Jump in and get started,” she said. Told.