Local veterans help Afghan families flee to United States – California News Times

Fresno, CA (KFSN)-Former Fresno Marine Commander Terry Slatik is sighing relief after receiving news that the Afghan interpreter he worked side by side with is safe in the United States.

“He spent three years at the forefront of his life,” Slatic said of his former interpreter, called “John” for his discretion.

Slatic and other military personnel have spent days strategicizing their escape for John.

“When he bodysurfed through the crowd and climbed the wall, I told him when we talked,’Look for someone who looks like me,’” Slatic said. rice field.

He says a letter of support from Maj. Gen. Marines and a copy of John’s photo with Slatic at work provided sufficient evidence to bring John out of Afghanistan to the safety of the United States.

“He and I talked for a very long time yesterday,” Slatic said. “It was a phenomenal conversation. He is calm. A week ago, his life was at stake.”

Related: The last U.S. military departs Afghanistan and the longest war in the United States ends 20 years later

Without U.S. military boots on the ground in Afghanistan, U.S. military veteran Eric Olsen says the challenge of helping people escape will intensify.

“They are willing to do anything to go anywhere,” he said.

Olsen served in Iraq in the early 2000s and now spent last week doing what he could to help his Afghan family escape from his home in Fresno.

“This is a very dangerous situation for anyone who knows or suspects that we have been working with us for the last 20 years,” Olsen said.

He is working on his sources within the government-the connections made throughout his time with the Army and the West Point Military Academy.

When the last US military left Afghanistan on Monday, Olsen says his efforts were successful for one family. He doesn’t disclose much about their identities or whereabouts, but says the family has multiple children and they are heading to the western United States.

“They already have a home to go to America,” he said. “We are working on a plan at some point in the future for them to come out and meet me.”

Olsen says he will continue to help foster connections with many who still want to flee. Meanwhile, he looks forward to the day when he can meet the family he helped face-to-face.

“I can assure you that in the last 6 days, you will have hugs and tears like a lifelong friend.”

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