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Airman First Class Nicolas Baron, 305th Air Mobility Wing Loadmaster, holds his blouse for the last time before donating it to the National History Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., Oct. 12, 2021.
Airman First Class Nicolas Baron, 305th Air Mobility Wing Loadmaster, holds his blouse for the last time before donating it to the National History Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., Oct. 12, 2021. (Shay Stuart/U.S. Air Force)

(Tribune News Service) — The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force is collecting artifacts and memorabilia from the recent withdrawal of civilians and troops from Afghanistan.

Among the items being collected, according to the Air Force: An Air Force uniform blouse used to cover a sleeping child on board a C-17 leaving Kabul.

The moment was captured in a photo some have called "iconic."

The blouse belonged to Airman First Class Nicolas Baron, a loadmaster assigned to the 305th Air Mobility Wing, an Air Force release said.

Baron, a native of Southern Florida, joined the Air Force in November 2019. After basic military training and tech school, he began working as a C-17 loadmaster in February this year.

"He had no idea that within his first seven months on the job he would be performing his duties to secure an aircraft amongst hundreds of Afghan refugees as part of Operation Allies Refuge," said a release from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.

"I was just doing what I had to do," Baron said in the release. "Making sure everyone was seated and safe. My blouse had fallen from where I'd hung it up and as I was focusing on my tasks, a mother picked it up and laid it across her child to help keep them warm. It was heartwarming to see."

Air Mobility Command's history office contacted Stuart Lockhart, 305th Air Mobility Wing historian, to ask if Baron would be willing to donate his blouse to the museum located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

"Even before the end of the operation the curators at the national museum were looking for items to document Operation Allies Refuge," Lockhart said. "One item that they mentioned in particular that they wanted, was (Baron's) blouse."

Questions were sent to a spokesman for the museum Wednesday.

The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, located at Wright-Patterson, is the world's largest and oldest military aviation museum. With free admission and parking, the museum features more than 350 aerospace vehicles and missiles and thousands of artifacts amid more than 19 acres of indoor exhibit space.

(c)2021 the Journal-News (Hamilton, Ohio)

Visit the Journal-News (Hamilton, Ohio) at www.journal-news.com

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