WASHINGTON, D.C. – Recently, Fox News aired a story about an Afghan interpreter who Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) and his office helped evacuate out of Afghanistan in August and relocate to North Carolina.
The 82nd Airborne's motto is "first in, last out." They were the last soldiers to leave Afghanistan on the final military flight, and this week one of their valued translators, Zabiullah R. affectionately known by the troops as Johnny, arrived with his family at his new home in rural North Carolina.
"We’ll do whatever we can do to welcome them here and make them comfortable and make them feel like they are at home now," said Tracy Byrd, one of several hundred neighbors to line the roadway and welcome this Afghan family to Waxhaw County near Charlotte.
Johnny, who served with U.S. infantry units for more than six years, was rescued at the end of August by a U.S. Senator, a private veterans group, and members of the 82nd Airborne, one of the last combat translators to make it out before the war’s end.
Now this 82nd Airborne veteran’s three young daughters will be neighbors with their father’s Afghan translator's 3 daughters on a farm in North Carolina, where Sen. Thom Tillis worked nonstop to get the US government to rescue Johnny.
"It was late nights, two or three o'clock in the morning. We were uncertain if we were going to be successful and I told Mike I wouldn't rest until I heard wheels up," Tillis said as he welcomed Johnny and his family from Afghanistan as a band played "God Bless America" in the background. "We took a lot of scissors to the red tape," he said, referring to the chaotic US government evacuation efforts.
Tillis, like many others on Capitol Hill, still has a list of 900 Afghan allies he is trying to evacuate.
"One of the things that we did, and that's what the American people need to know, the information that we gathered or service records, recommendations from unit commanders, photographs, documentation, we did all of that work so that we can make it very clear to the State Department and people controlling the airport perimeter that we had somebody who deserved to get out of the country," Tillis said. "If Johnny and his family had been left there, I'm sorry, they would have been one of the Taliban’s top targets, because he had a record of service to the U.S. military, and that's a death sentence for anyone who's still in Afghanistan."