Two veterans work to get interpreter out of Afghanistan

Two veterans of the war in Afghanistan here in western Washington are on a new mission.

They are working to rescue an Afghan interpreter they say saved countless military lives.

There are thousands of interpreters who want to come to this country, but they know this interpreter best. He was the one who made it possible for them to safely do their work in Afghanistan. If the U.S. mission is complete there, the. veterans say they can’t leave him behind.

“Everybody that’s worked with these interpreters, definitely in a patrolling role or were out in combat, we all feel a deep bond with them,” said veteran Greg Adams.

These images of the war in Afghanistan may seem a world apart for the rest of us.

But for Adams, a Green Beret; and Army ranger Matt Griffin, “Griff,” as he calls himself; this is familiar terrain.

Both served there helping Afghans build an army from scratch, and Adams credits his interpreter with ensuring his survival — an Afghan he knows as Moneer, who was essentially on the battlefield with him.

“Yes,” said Adams. “But he doesn’t ever leave, right? So, he was on his second team with me, 18 years old.”

Adams introduced Moneer to Griff, his 2001 West Point classmate, when he needed an interpreter after his own stint in Afghanistan. Now the Americans are leaving, putting Moneer at grave risk.

“His work with the American forces, specifically special operations, makes him a target,” said Griff. “He would go after the baddest of the bad, knowing that they’re going to target him.”

“It’s a very real threat for all these interpreters that are right now being left behind,” said Adams.

Yet their efforts to get Moneer to the U.S. are in a tangle of bureaucratic red tape. So, three weeks ago, they started a GoFundMe account to try to get him out of Afghanistan:

“Right now, we need to get him to safety,” said Adams, “and we can work on the paperwork process in short order afterwards.”

Leaving Moneer behind, they say, should trouble all of us.

“If you’re the type of person that sees a veteran and you say, ‘Thank you for your service,’ then you should be the same type of person that wants to help these people. Because they kept your veterans alive when they were down range.”

And so far, their efforts are paying off. They have already raised more than $64,000.

But there are an estimated 8,000 other interpreters who need help. They say they hope to help others after getting Moneer out.