U.S. soldier and former Afghan interpreter reunited at Fort McCoy

Afghan interpreter and U.S. Army soldier form unbreakable bond during war in Afghanistan

FORT MCCOY, Wis. (WKBT) – Fort McCoy is preparing Afghan refugees for resettlement across the U.S. Thursday a handful of journalists were allowed inside the base to see what daily life is like for refugees here in Wisconsin.

Several refugees spoke to journalists on Thursday. One refugee and a U.S. Army soldier worked together during the Afghan War. Monroe County is where they connected again.

“It turns into a really special relationship,” said Lt. Col. Joe Mickley, a commander from Fort Campbell Kentucky. “We were like brothers.”

War can create a mountain of destruction and at the same time create an unbreakable bond.

“He was my cultural adviser,” Mickley said. “He went everywhere with me and helped me through a lot of difficult challenges.”

Mickley worked alongside Nasir in 2011 and 2012 during the Afghan War.

“And I wrote a recommendation letter for Nasir to apply for an SIV, and we lost a little bit of contact over the years,” Mickley said.

After 11 years apart, they are reconnecting again.

“As fate would have it, the day before I came up here, I got a text from Nasir and he said, ‘Sir, I am in America now,'” Mickley said.

The Biden Administration pulled U.S. forces out of Afghanistan. The country fell to the Taliban a few weeks later. U.S. forces evacuated more than 123,000 Afghan allies out of the country, with millions of others scattered around the globe.

Nearly 13,000 now live just down Interstate 90 a few miles east of Sparta at Fort McCoy. The largest population of refugees in the U.S.

“I am in the States because of him. I am glad,” Nasir said. “I am so happy that I come to America.”

There are a handful of military bases around the U.S. housing refugees while they wait for the approval of their immigration paperwork. Nasir said the language barrier is the biggest challenge they face, especially for children.

About half the population at Fort McCoy is children. Professors from Afghan universities here at the base teach classes so children can learn English. Mickley remembers when Nasir was a child.

“It’s just impressive just to see him all grown up now,” Mickley said. “He was a little bit younger back then, and we always joked about what his future would be like and we all knew then that he would want to come to the states and he would do very well there.”

Because he worked with U.S. forces. Nasir feared the Taliban would hurt him and his family.

“I worked as an interpreter,” Nasir said. “All people know about my job that I did work for the Americans, that’s why I was in trouble.”

Now on American soil, and thanks to the bond he formed with Mickley, Nasir believes he and his family will be safe.

“Now I hope for the good future of my family in America,” Nasir said.

Nasir came to the U.S. with his wife two sons and a daughter. Mickley will help Nasir find a job and begin his new life in the U.S.

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