BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Marine Corps veteran Mike Wilson worked for weeks to get his translator out of Afghanistan. They served side by side in combat in the Helmand Province for two years.
“He was assigned to me to act as my eyes, ears and voice in that mission,” Wilson told WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren. “He became an extension of me.”READ MORE: Baltimore Man Cleared Of Murder Decades Later: 'You Can't Give Up'
A Marine veteran from Anne Arundel Co. successfully helped his translator get out of Afghanistan shortly before the attack at the Kabul airport. He hopes the translator and his family can settle in Maryland. His story next at 5 & streaming on CBSN Baltimore @wjz @AnnieRoseNews pic.twitter.com/mSb5jnm2Y9
— Mike Hellgren (@HellgrenWJZ) August 27, 2021
Wilson asked us not to name the translator for security reasons. He still has family in Kabul.
The translator was finally able to get out of the Kabul airport just before the deadly bombings Thursday.READ MORE: EEOC Files Pay Discrimination Lawsuit Against Baltimore Auto Dealer
“He was in one of the last groups to get through the gates, through the flight line, before everything popped off. Had he been a few hours behind, he would have likely been with the crowd and experienced the death that came with that, and that would have been profoundly heartbreaking,” Wilson said. “If I didn’t support him with every ounce of resources I have at my disposal, I don’t think I’d be able to look myself in the mirror.”
He was able to bring his wife and two young sons ages seven and nine along and texted pictures to Wilson outside the airport before he escaped Afghanistan.
But Wilson said, despite his translator’s work helping the Marines that lead to him being a target of the Taliban, the Marine veteran and others were not able to get through the United States’ government bureaucracy and red tape to secure his departure. He had to turn to the French government to make the flight out possible.
“It is unfortunate that although he spent two years in combat with Marines, the U.S. was not able to facilitate that exit. I was able to work with French embassy and French military due to his service with a non-governmental organization that was French,” Wilson told Hellgren. “You can understand how disheartened I was when he was turned away by Marines at the gate who he had served in combat with years prior, and that it was the French who actually accepted him and got him out of the country and to safety.”
The translator and his family will temporarily live in Paris, and Wilson, a native of Anne Arundel County, wants him to eventually settle in Maryland.
They have been communicating through texts and voicemails. “He was like, brothers will hug in six months, and so I hope that’s the case. I hope that’s the timeline. I hope we get to have that hug.”MORE NEWS: 'We're The Cure To This Situation': 9 Killed, 13 Wounded In Baltimore Over The Past Week
Wilson said he is working with the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service to help those Afghans trying to get out of the country. You can learn more at www.LIRS.org.