An Afghan interpreter who worked with U.S. troops for 13 years has arrived in America with his family after a five-year struggle to obtain visas.
Fraidoon “Fred” Akhtari and his family were greeted at Dulles International Airport, just outside Washington, D.C., by the veteran charity No One Left Behind and 25 Pennsylvania National Guard soldiers he served alongside in Afghanistan, reports Fox News.
In his 13 years serving alongside Americans, Akhtari participated in more than 500 combat missions, according to Fox News.
Sgt. Ryan Craig, one of the 25 soldiers from the Pennsylvania National Guard’s 103rd Armor Regiment, told Fox News about an instance when Akhtari saved their lives at a remote outpost.
“Completely cut off, no air support, limited artillery support, and throughout the entire battle Fred was redirecting us, ‘Hey, they’re going to come from the east side. They’re going to come from the west side, you guys need to shift fire this way,’” said Craig, who recently separated from the Army. “And just giving us that valuable actionable intelligence that single-handedly kept all of us safe.”
Retired FBI Special Agent David Lemoine flew from Nebraska to greet Akhtari, going against his doctor’s orders not to fly. He had undergone open heart surgery last month. Akhtari worked with Lemoine and the FBI in the apprehension of a high-ranking Taliban member. Given Akhtari’s service to the U.S. military, as well as the FBI, his life was often in danger, Fox News reported.
“They shot my car two times with an [rocket propelled grenade],” Akhtari said, according to Fox News. “They shot me many times but couldn’t kill me. They sent a threat to my family a few times, but they couldn’t kill me because I had good friends with me here and in Afghanistan. They protect me, and I am here today.”
Immigration lawyer Sari Long was given Akhtari’s case by the International Refugee Assistance Project. She argued his case with the U.S. government for three years before finally getting Fred and his family into the country, according to Fox News.