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    Afghan pilot details childhood, family’s escape from Afghanistan

    Afghan pilot details escape from Afghanistan, hopes for new life

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Mikaley Kline | An Afghan pilot receives a patch from U.S. Air Force Capt. Edwin Stanfield, Task Force...... read more read more

    JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, NEW JERSEY, UNITED STATES

    02.08.2022

    Story by Staff Sgt. Mikaley Kline 

    Operation Allies Welcome - Operation Allies Refuge   

    JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. – “My family and thousands of others were forced to leave the country,” Abdul* said. “We eventually settled in Pakistan, but the immigration system was very difficult.”

    Abdul, born in the Ghazni Province, was a child the first time the Taliban took control of Afghanistan and his family was forced to flee the country.

    His father helped fight against the Russians when they occupied Afghanistan and he was against the Taliban.

    “In Pakistan my father couldn’t work like a normal person because the Taliban was tracking them, so he was hiding and changing his name,” he said. “My siblings and I started weaving carpets, and we did this for years. Shortly before September 11th happened my father returned back to Afghanistan to help fight against the Taliban. Then after September 11th, the U.S. came to Afghanistan and Taliban lost control. Then my family settled back into our homeland.”

    Once back in his home village his father enrolled him into school.

    “My father enrolled me into a school,” he said. “Our school had nothing. There were no tables, chairs, books, notebooks. We were sitting on the ground without any carpet.”

    Abdul was going to school for the first half of the day and then he was shepherding the other half of the day.

    After three years, his father saved up enough money to send Abdul and his older brother to a better school in Ghazni city.

    “Sometimes in Ghazni, we had nothing to eat,” he said. “I remember one year, for nine days, we were eating only bread and cold water.”

    Things got even more expensive for the family when they moved to Kabul.

    “It was more difficult when we moved to Kabul,” he added. “We knew our father couldn’t support us as usual like other people could. That is when we decided to work. I began working in an educational center cleaning the facility and also stayed at the nights at the center working as a guard.”

    When Abdul wasn’t in school, he was working the rest of his day inside the education center learning math. After working numerous jobs inside of the center he eventually worked his way up to co-owning the center with another individual.

    Abdul eventually sold his half of the previous center to start up a different educational center in Kabul that would help educate individuals of lower income.

    “This educational center is one of the top educational centers in Afghanistan,” he added. “It helps prepare students for university and I was a math teacher.”

    In 2015, Abdul decided to fulfill his childhood dream of flying. He joined the Afghan air force and became a helicopter pilot.

    He fled Afghanistan in August 2021 when the Taliban took control of the country again. He eventually came to Liberty Village in Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey.

    Despite the time and distance Abdul is still a member of the educational center committee.

    Note: *Name has been changed to protect the safety of the individual. This story is part of a two-part article on Abdul.

    Published on DVIDS website February 2, 2022.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 02.08.2022
    Date Posted: 02.09.2022 09:59
    Story ID: 414293
    Location: JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, NEW JERSEY, US

    Web Views: 157
    Downloads: 0

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