“They already started going into the soldiers’ houses and looking for them, you know? And asking their families to bring your son. Give us weapons, give us this, give us that,” Selanee said of the Taliban.
“Honestly, our soldiers all they were doing was serving their country, earning some money to feed their family.”
Selanee had first started interpreting as a teenager, working with US forces from 2007-2013, Rodriguez said. He then went on to become a commando in an elite Afghan unit and rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel.
At the airport, he was reunited with his family, including his wife, a younger brother and five children. They got on an evacuation flight to Qatar, with the intention of then going on to Germany before heading to the US.
“I don’t know where they’re taking us next. To be honest, sir, we have no idea what’s happening next day, you know?” he told CNN from the hangar in Qatar that his family was sharing with scores of other evacuees.
Rather than flying to Germany, the Selanee family was put on a flight to Washington. To tell Rodriguez where they were going, a flight attendant wrote it down on a napkin for him: “Washington DC USA, Airport: IAD.”
Rodriguez immediately bought a ticket and flew from Seattle, trying to track Selanee’s progress with messages they were trading on WhatsApp. Selanee told Rodriguez they were being held up, that his wife and son had been taken to a hospital in Loudoun County, Virginia.
Twenty-four hours after Selanee arrived, Rodriguez got word the family had been moved to a temporary housing facility near Dulles airport.
“This guy is special for a number of reasons. Look all these people have been through hell and back. But this guy is special because he is he is fiercely loyal to Americans,” Rodriguez said. “And then he, and then he went on to, you know, command, probably the most elite special operations unit in all of Afghanistan “
Rodriguez bought Selanee — who is now being processed in Fort Lee, Virginia — new clothes and a phone as he starts his life in the country he assisted in Afghanistan for years.
But hanging over his new the life in the US are his concerns for family members that didn’t make it out.
“I am happy because I am safe here with my family,” Selanee said. “But I’m still unhappy because I left some of my family back there.”