A group of Iowa National Guard soldiers befriended their Afghan translator, but when their mission ended they didn’t want to leave him behind.
The soldiers were finishing up a tour in Afghanistan in 2011. While deployed, native Nabiullah Mohammadi served as translator for the Iowa Guard troops.
Overseas, Mohammadi was invaluable to Iowa soldiers.
“My job was not only translation, so I wanted to make sure whenever we had a meeting it was a safe environment,” says Mohammadi.
Mohammadi is fluent in three languages, but it was his knowledge of the culture and customs that likely saved lives.
“He could hear those murmurs and give us a tip, ‘yeah it might be time to move out,’” says Lt. Patrick Hendrickson with the Iowa National Guard.
Lt. Hendrickson depended on Mohammadi during his tour, and credits his frequent tips for keeping him safe.
“I don`t think I’d be here if it wasn`t for him, he was right there with me in every kind of engagement we ever had,” says Lt. Hendrickson.
By working with American soldiers, Mohammadi was at risk.
“Some people liked us but a lot of people didn`t like us. I knew it was a very dangerous job, and my life was in danger,” says Mohammadi.
When the tour ended, so did Mohammadi’s security.
Before heading home, Lt. Hendrickson promised to help get his friend to the United States.
“That was one of the hardest things I had to was to say goodbye to him in Afghanistan and I didn`t want to break that promise,” says Lt. Hendrickson.
Lt. Hendrickson and other Iowa soldiers sponsored Mohammadi and his family and helped them apply for a visa.
After two and half years it was finally approved.
“I got the reward to move here and I’m very happy,” says Mohammadi.
Mohammadi, his wife, and their newborn moved into an apartment near the Drake neighborhood.
A refugee service along with donations from fellow soldiers have helped them settle in.
“Iowa is good, I like it so far, very nice people, very supportive. I`m glad I have friends here,” says Mohammadi.
Mohammadi is starting a job at a call center next week and is currently in the process of getting his GED with plans to take college classes in the future.
For information on how to help or donate to Mohammadi and his family contact, Lt. Hendrickson at Patrick.M.Hendrickson.firstname.lastname@example.org