(NewsNation) — A transportation nurse with the Minnesota National Guard’s 133rd Airlift Wing was honored with the highest flying award for saving 22 people during a deadly airport bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 2021.
Maj. Katie Lunning, now an Intensive Care Unit nurse manager at the Central Iowa VA Health Care System, was honored with the Distinguished Flying Cross over the weekend.
Lunning is only the 12th woman in the military to receive this award, and it’s only the second time it has been awarded to a nurse.
On “Morning in America,” Lunning described the chaos of the attack that killed 170 civilians and 13 U.S. service members, saying that her unit received a no-notice call that they needed to attend to an unknown number of casualties.
Lunning helped evacuate 22 patients with serious injuries — ages 18 months to young adults — on the day of the attack.
“Adrenaline kept us going. But we just focused on our jobs and what we knew we could do as a team,” Lunning said.
She explained that before the call, she had just returned to Qatar from a 20-hour mission. But even though she was exhausted, she knew there was a need for help.
“I was exhausted. But we’re airmen first,” Lunning said. “And we knew, and we’d been seeing this for what, 10 days now that there was a need. So yeah, that’s what you do, you just pull yourself together quick and focus on your job.”
Lunning said she was motivated to help all those people because she could see herself in their eyes. She knew that she was helping their families, as well.