COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Some Afghan War veterans from central Ohio are continuing to do everything they can to help get their interpreters safely out of Afghanistan as August 31 gets closer. They said the attacks at the airport in Kabul on Thursday bring even more urgency to their work.
“We all know how dangerous it is for an interpreter. We know what will happen to them. The consequences are dire,” said Sayre Payne.
For the past couple of weeks, Sayre and Preston Steele have been working with more than 20 other Afghan War veterans from Ohio trying to help interpreters and their families get out.
“Trying to make every attempt to get your interpreter on a list, to vouch for them, to make sure the right information is with the right people.,” said Steele. “It’s really just trying to help these guys save their life.”
Steele served in Afghanistan in 2011. Payne served there in 2010. They did not serve together but some of their time overlapped. They also grew up together in central Ohio. Though they’re not in the military anymore, they said they’re treating getting interpreters out like a mission.
“The mission changed when suicide bomber went off, the complex attack occurred. Many people died as a result of that. But our mission just shifted at that point,” said Payne. “It just feels like we should have been done with this a long time ago dealing with suicide vests, checkpoints, and ISIS and Taliban. It’s sad, it’s frustrating, there’s just so many emotions tied to that, to hear about this in 2021, right before the 20th anniversary.”
After Thursday’s attacks, they became even more worried about U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan and the 10 interpreters they are trying to help. They said one was just able to fly out on Wednesday and one just made it into the airport before the bombs went off on Thursday.
“That also means eight of ours personally and really more than that, that are still just currently stranded with no real plan besides they know they have get out of the country as soon as possible,” said Payne.