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Afghan interpreter finds safety, support for his family after escaping to Northeast Ohio

Former US military member on a mission to help those fleeing Afghanistan
Afghan refugees
Posted at 4:53 PM, Oct 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-19 20:01:36-04

CLEVELAND — A family who fled Afghanistan in fear of their lives is now living in Northeast Ohio. A man in that family, who asked us not to identify him for fear of retaliation from the Taliban against his family still in Afghanistan, worked as an interpreter for the United States government in that country.

Watch Tracy Carloss's full story on News 5 at 5 p.m.

When the Taliban took over, he went to the Kabul airport daily, determined to escape. One day, a US military member recognized the man.

“When he saw me, he just told me to come. He pulled me over the water, there was a small river,” the man explained.

But he needed his wife and children.

“He told me I will be waiting for five minutes, and I did it,” the man said.

That was the beginning of a month-long journey to the Cleveland area where they sought safety and a better life.

“For my kids, my wife, I knew America has opportunities,” said the man.

The family has only been in Northeast Ohio for days but has already been helped by the kindness of strangers. Just about everything in their small apartment has been donated.

“We came with just me and my family, nothing else,” he said.

Now safe in America, he fears for his family and friends still in Afghanistan.

“We’re hearing now they are searching for those people who helped the United States,” he said, speaking of the Taliban. He is not the only one concerned; a former US military member who helped the family, Sam Blackmer, is concerned about those left behind.

“We also had a lot of logistics people, a lot of supply people, people who worked on our bases and they're all under threat. Because they worked with us, the interpreters today — [they are] high-value targets to the Taliban,” said Blackmer.

When not working, Blackmer is trying to help those left behind.

“It's really stressful, and there's so many people that I want to help. And like I said, right now, I've seen one person get out,” explained Blackmer.

Blackmer is on a mission to help and hopes that by sharing his story, those fearing for their lives in Afghanistan will be helped.

“These are people that are waiting on us. And you know, all of these guys put their lives on the line for us. Every single one of them, maybe if they were logistics guys, interpreters, whatever they were doing with us, they all risked their lives to come work with us. And we've just walked away — we've abandoned them,” said Blackmer.

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