On Jan. 4, Matthew Longshaw’s quiet dinner with co-workers in Kabul, Afghanistan was interrupted by a loud, reverberating blast — a jarring noise that he and his dinner mates quickly recognized as a terrorist attack.
According to a report from the 455th Expeditionary Wing, a provisional U.S. Central Command unit stationed in Afghanistan that supports the ongoing war on terror, Longshaw was one of four Airmen who assisted first responders after an improvised explosive device detonated at the Hamid Karzai International Airport.
Longshaw is a master sergeant in the Utah Air National Guard and lives in Pleasant View.
According to the report, Longshaw, Tech. Sgt. Chad Huggins, Staff Sgt. Tobi Wagner and Airman 1st Class John Michael Aradanas were eating dinner at a restaurant on the military side of the airport when the bomb went off. The Airmen work together in the 455th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron, a materiel recovery component of the wing that inspects equipment for air transport out of Afghanistan.
“We were done eating and sitting there; then we heard (the blast) and we felt it,” Longshaw said in the report. “The building shook, and then Sergeant Huggins came in after that; he was pretty visibly upset.”
Huggins had been outside the restaurant, talking on his cellphone, when the explosion occurred.
“You heard it, and saw the flash and the next thing it was like a movie,” he said. “I got pushed into the wall and my phone went flying. I don’t even know how to explain it.”
The bomb left a 15-foot-deep crater in the earth and a large group of injured civilian government contractors in its wake.
“One of the civilians … asked for our help,” Longshaw said. “So we got up and started to help — did what we could and whatever we were asked to do.”
The Airmen helped establish a temporary first aid area as nurses treated the injured victims, then they set up temporary lodging quarters. According to the report, the group helped medical staff with sundry duties and comforted victims for eight hours after the attack.
The explosion killed one of the contractors and injured more than 25 others.
“I figure that the guys getting hurt are the ones kicking in doors or doing convoys and stuff like that,” Longshaw said. “I didn’t really think about our contractors getting blown up on the civilian side of an airport. I didn’t expect that to happen.”
Lt. Steve Dillingham, a spokesman with Utah’s Air National Guard, said Longshaw is still deployed and will return to Utah sometime in 2016.