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Former Commissioner Bob Ott volunteers to help others escaping Afghanistan


As the dust of the Afghanistan mass exodus settles, and Monday morning quarterbacks debate each other on the pros and cons of the U. S. staying or leaving that region, one story that has risen to the top for our community that should have all of us feeling proud is that of former Cobb Commissioner Bob Ott. 

Ott, an Air Force veteran and 30-year pilot for Delta Airlines, bravely stepped forward to assist the Delta civil reserve air fleet initiative as they were worked with the military to transport evacuees. Once Ott learned that his company, Delta, needed crews for 25 military charter flights, he volunteered to be one of the 25 and piloted a flight between the U.S. and Hahn, Germany, to assist with the evacuation effort.

Fleeing Americans and others who were desperate to escape the danger zone as the clock ran out for the U.S. to withdraw from Afghanistan were depended upon planes to get them out. In a two-week span, more than 100,000 people evacuated the country including soldiers, diplomats, Afghans fleeing the Taliban and others, who were all trying to get out of Afghanistan before the August 31 deadline.

After leaving Kabul, 200 of those fleeing Afghanistan were taken to Qatar, and then on to Germany, where Ott and his crew met them. Ott took over, flying them safely to the U.S. Of the 200 passengers that he flew, only 8 of those on his flight were able to speak English, as well as 50 of the passengers being young children.

Said Ott at the time, “The company’s (Delta) really kind of stepped up and has been responding I think in a really positive way.”

As they entered the U.S., Ott had an interpreter tell the passengers over the PA system when they were flying over New York City, which was a thrill for those on board. After landing in the U.S. at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, D.C., Ott and his crew waited five hours while U.S. Customs officials vetted the passengers.  Ott said he spent the time speaking with some of the English speakers including an interpreter who had worked with the Green Berets and an aide to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani who told stories of anguish as they tried to get out. Ott wished them the best with their new life in the U.S., especially the children, saying “The kids will now have a better life and opportunities they would not have had otherwise.”

We ask the community to join us in thanking our former commissioner, Bob Ott, for stepping forward during this remarkable time of need to help others.

Thank you Bob Ott!

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