The war in Iraq created unexpected opportunities for many Iraqis to come to the United States. Two such individuals were sisters Afrah and Lina Al Asadi but it wasn’t an easy road for them and it nearly cost them their lives. You see, Afrah and Lina were translators working with the United States army during the height of the war. It was a tough job, as their duties required them to go out on patrol operations with the base they were assigned to.
They were exposed to the same sniper fire, mortar rounds and IED’s as the soldiers and their lives were in danger each and every day. Not only that but if the local insurgents found out they were working for the U.S. they would attack retaliate against them.
Trident Universities Director of Military Relations CSM Phil Johndrow (retired), who helped them escape, explains it this way:
For years they risked their lives for our country dodging bullets and being attacked. I had heard they took different routes to and from our camp so they would not be followed because of the danger not only to them but to their families. They told me how they had to tell everyone that they worked for a company and not for the US Army.
Eventually the worst happened and they were both injured during an attack on their convoy. Phil knew it was time to get them out of there. The United States had a program that allowed Iraqis who helped the U.S. to flee to America if ever their lives were in too much danger. While they recovered from their injuries Phil began filling out the paperwork. It became his goal in life to see them become U.S. citizens. However, it required the signature of a General and the bureaucracy moved slowly. Finally Phil took the paper work straight to Brigadier General John C. Campbell and told him the girls story. Gen. Campbell Looked Phil in the eye I asked him if he trusted them.
Phil’s only response was, with my life.
Five years later an emotional Phil found himself in Great Falls, Montana where one of Phil’s relatives had agreed to take the girls in. For Afrah, Lina and Phil, Janaury 17th, 2013 wasn’t just another ordinary day. It was a special day, a day long sought hopes and dreams were fulfilled. It was the day Afrah and Lina took their oaths to become U.S. citizens.