LUBBOCK, Texas – One Lubbock native is now being recognized and honored for his actions during the evacuation of Afghanistan last August.
Diplomatic Security Service special agent Nolan Blanchette is one of 20 selected for the award. He and his team rushed to secure and evacuate the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, destroying classified and sensitive materials so they didn’t end up in the hands of the Taliban. They then helped secure operations at the Hamid Karzai International Airport.
“It was hard to get a lot of our contacts in and out or to get to meetings with government contacts,” he explained. “Securing those routes securing you know, the nightly fuel deliveries, things of that nature were always a challenge.”
The mission was a success, and a year later, Blanchette has received the 2021 National Award for Heroism from the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association.
Blanchette grew up in the Hub City and attended Coronado High School. He then went on to Tarleton State where he received a degree in Ag Engineering. After that, he spent time working for border patrol, then moved into the DSS and has been there for around 15 years.
“I’ve served at, I don’t know, five or six different posts leading up to Afghanistan,” he said.
And it was there in Afghanistan… in August of 2021 that he and his team were tasked to keep American diplomats safe as they undertook the largest humanitarian operation in the State Department’s history.
He said they faced many challenges in helping his team get back home, all while avoiding rocket attacks, suicide bombers, gunfire, and a lot more. He said another challenge was staying in touch with family.
“You can’t let the urgency of the situation take over where you’re not taking care of your people at home as well and keeping their concerns somewhat covered,” he explained.
And while Blanchette appreciates this Heroism Award, “it’s not why I do this job,” he added.
He has been living and working in Dallas for about a year now as he is getting ready for his next deployment in January where he will go to Erbil, Iraq.
Thank you for your service, Nolan! You make West Texas and our entire country proud!