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News: Interpreter sacrifices to aid communication

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Eva Capt. Monika Comeaux

Eva translates for members of the civil military operations center as locals arrive to the gate of Logistical Support Area Anaconda, asking for assistance. This Iraqi man was asking for medical assistance for his son, who needs a lung transplant. Eva is forced to live on post, because of the threats her and her family received. She is a prisoner of sorts in her own country.

One day, she was a local national working for the Coalition Forces, in hopes of contributing to a better Iraq, the next day she became a 'refugee" in her own country. This local national translator had to leave half of her family behind, and now lives and works as a "prisoner of sorts" on Logistical Support Area Anaconda.
Meet Eva. She works for the civil affairs team of the 29th Brigade Combat Team.
Her life was already hard as a female member of Iraq's Christian population, even before starting to work for the Coalition.
Despite her sad past, Eva is a cheerful woman who finished college where she studied English and German. Her big brown eyes reflect warmth, pain and understanding. This lady comes across as a wise and caring person, with a strong drive to help other people.
"She is a really good translator. She is one of the best on LSAA. She is very friendly and passionate," said Spc. Naomi Suzuki, an administrative specialist assigned to the civil affairs team of the 29th BCT.
Suzuki works with Eva on a daily basis, as they both assist the civil-military operations center, where locals can contact the U.S. military for medical help, claims and several other things.
Eva is well-liked by all the Soldiers of the team. Her tragic story touched them all.
The insurgents are after her and her family, because she helps the Coalition Forces, as she explained in a letter she wrote to a church in California, in which she asked for help for her family. Her and her best friend's name were painted on the door of a mosque, and her best friend was murdered the next day, just for being her friend, Eva wrote in her letter.
"I think a lot about Soldiers, who left their homes, left their families behind and came to help the country of Iraq and Iraqi people. So what do you want me to do? I am an Iraqi. I have to work with you to build bridges of understanding each other. I am not going to stop," Eva said.
Eva started working as a translator shortly after the end of the war in 2003. She was first asked to translate for Christian families during services. She was later asked to be a translator at a civil-military operations center. She worked there during the day, and worked at a joint communications center at night.
"Because of the help I was giving to the coalition and police, I started receiving many threatening letters, but I did not stop," she wrote in her letter. She was shot at, and someone attempted to kidnap her. She marched on, continuing to translate.
"Then late at night on the 29th of August [2004], someone came and knocked on our door," Eva said. "Salwan, my son opened the door, and the men started shooting and shot my son. . . I heard people crying all over the house, and I did not know what happened to my son. . . All the rooms in the house were full of bullet holes. . . I saw my son under the kitchen table with a lot of blood all over him and I thought he was dead."
Eva's son was first taken to a local hospital, than evacuated to LSA Anaconda, because the local hospital wanted to amputate his arm. He went through multiple surgeries, and although he is still disabled, he works for an engineer unit as a translator also on LSA Anaconda.
Eva and her son have been 'stranded" at Anaconda ever since. Eva's husband and other two children fled to another part of the country, and can only keep in touch through occasional phone calls and e-mails.
"Her husband is taking care of the two children that remain in the home. Eva and her son working on post are the providers for the entire family," said Sgt. Tywanna Johnson, a chemical operations specialist now assigned to the civil affairs team.


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This work, Interpreter sacrifices to aid communication, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.

Date Taken:11.25.2005

Date Posted:11.25.2005 08:25

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