Delta Flight Attendants Personally Purchase Special Items for Afghan Children on Evacuation Plane
"We knew these evacuees were coming with no opportunity to prepare," said pilot Alexander Kahn on CNN
One Delta Airlines crew recently stepped up in a special way to help a group of children fleeing Afghanistan.
Flight attendants on an emergency flight out of Germany personally purchased various items "on their own initiative" the night before the trip, pilot Alexander Kahn said Friday in an interview with John Berman on CNN's New Day.
"Spending their own money, they purchased diapers and wipes and candy and balloons and coloring books and other things they knew the evacuees were going to need," he told Berman.
Kahn said the pilots offered to reimburse them for their generous gesture, but the flight attendants "refused to take any" compensation from their crewmates.
"We knew these evacuees were coming with no opportunity to prepare and to take things that you and I would prepare for an international flight," he told Berman.
The veteran pilot lauded the flight attendants' "incredibly professional" attitude and "exemplary service" during the flight.
More than 100,000 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan after the Taliban took over the country, according to The Associated Press. The United States' efforts to complete evacuations before their Aug. 31 deadline have been marred by violence at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul.
The night before the flight, Kahn said, the Delta crew got familiar with each other after positioning themselves at the United States' Ramstein Air Base. It was then that the pilot knew "how special this operation was going to be."
Kahn is the son of a Holocaust survivor who immigrated to the United States after being liberated from the Buchenwald concentration camp. He said his father entered the country much like many of the evacuees currently coming to the U.S. — with just "the clothes on his back, no family [and] no English skills."
"[My father] came to the United States not much different than the people that are coming to the United States now" from Afghanistan, Kahn explained, adding that it helped him see the deeper meaning of the mission.
"I was able to put myself in their position and realize that they're starting a new life," he added. "This is going to be a frightening experience for them. But it has the potential to be an excellent experience for them."
Kahn is proud of his team's efforts in transporting the evacuees to the U.S. from Germany. "The American people have always come together and helped when it was time to help, and the military community overseas has always come together when it was time to help," he said.
"This is what military families are all about," he added, "and this is what the American people are all about."
A representative for Delta did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.