Eau Claire Veteran fights to evacuate Afghan translator, friend after two suicide bombings at Kabul airport

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KABUL, Afghan. (WLAX/WEUX) – “Those who carried out this attack as well as anyone who wishes America harm, know this, we will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay.”

President Biden condemning the violence this afternoon after a deadly day in Afghanistan.

Two suicide bombers and gunmen attacked crowds of people trying to escape through the airport in Kabul. U.S. officials said 11 Marines and one Navy medic were among those who died. Another 15 service members were wounded and officials warned the toll could grow. At least 60 Afghans were killed and more than 140 Afghans were wounded.

An Eau Claire veteran is fighting to get a translator he served with out of Afghanistan. Frank Bruyere says despite having a visa to come to the U.S. his friend, who’s name we are not sharing for his safety, can’t get on a flight out of Kabul. First News at Nine’s Max Cotton spoke with Bruyere about the struggle.

“I’m very scared,” said Bruyere. “I’m very frustrated because I can’t do anything there.” Bruyere is upset because an Afghan interpreter he served with while he was a private contractor in 2015 can’t get out of the country.

“They would be willing to give their shirts off their back for us,” said Bruyere. “They would protect us. In many cases when we went to the gate to pick them up, they would make sure that we got back safely.” Bruyere had such a good relationship with this interpreter he’s sponsored him to get a special immigrant visa, or SIV.

The U.S. State Department says Afghans who worked for, or on behalf of, the U.S. government or an international security assistance force are eligible for these visas.

Bruyere says his friend’s visa has already been approved by the U.S. government meaning he’s allowed to enter the country. However, “He’s waiting for further instructions to go from his house to the Kabul airport.”

The interpreter sent Bruyere messages saying he had instructions from the U.S. embassy in Afghanistan to go the airport for his flight to America. However the interpreter says U.S. Marines wouldn’t let him enter the airport. Bruyere says his friend is essentially a sitting duck for the Taliban especially if U.S. forces leave without him.

“He sleeps during the day, stays awake during the night, him and his two children that are grade-school level,” Bruyere said, “so that if somebody knocks on the front door, they can escape through the back door.”

Bruyere adds the situation is so dire he’d get on the first plane to Afghanistan if he thought going there could get his friend out.

“I’d leave tomorrow.” But Bruyere also believes staying in Afghanistan is essentially a death sentence. “They’re expecting death but there’s nothing that they can do about it.”

Bruyere says he hopes President Biden reconsiders the August 31st deadline to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan. The President reiterated his commitment today to getting all Americans and Afghan allies out of the country.

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