16 Feb

Blake

                                       
/><p class=Retired Airborne Ranger Blake Hall poses with Kurdish kids during a combat tour in Iraq.

Courtesy of Blake Hall

Who was “Roy”?

Jill Replogle covers the updated story, leading in with arecap:

The troops called him Roy. He was a lanky Iraqi teenager who liked hip-hop and looked too young to be working for the U.S. military.

During nine months of firefights, raids on enemy compounds and long nights on watch in Iraq, Roy interpreted the country’s language and culture for the platoon led by U.S. Army Captain Blake Hall.

He helped Hall identify the signs of a hostile neighborhood and impending attacks. The two became very close.

Hall admired Roy’s witty one-liners, but even more so, his bravery.

“Not allowed to carry a weapon in combat, and still, you know, with bullets flying overhead, faithfully doing his job right by my side. I don’t think I’m that brave,” Hall said.

“I know I’m not that brave.”

Roy ultimately wouldn’t make it out of Iraq. But his former captain, Hall, would spend the next several years working to get his family out.

When Hall’s tour ended, Roy wasn’t yet eligible for a special visa offered to Iraqis who worked with U.S. forces. He still had three months of combat work left.

So Hall returned to the U.S. and began the paperwork to bring his former interpreter over. Then one day he got an email: Roy had been killed in a bombing along with six American soldiers.

“I felt like I had just been punched in the stomach,” Hall said.

He spent the next 18 months numb, trying to process his combat experience and his loss. One thing kept nagging him — his promise to Roy.

“And ultimately I decided I needed to find his mom,” Hall said, “just to tell her how important he was to us and how special he was.”

Hall wanted to ask her for forgiveness.

“I still felt very guilty about leaving [Roy] behind. He was the only member of my platoon I didn’t bring back,” Hall said.

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A few days ago I posted a WaPo article from January regarding how Hall has spent the last few years searching for Roy’s mom, and then trying to get family members legal residency here in the States. Iraqi interpreters and their family members live in constant danger from anti-U.S. insurgents and jihadis for having helped U.S. forces:

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Hall vowed to get the family to the U.S. He worked with pro bono lawyers and the nonprofit Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project.

When things seemed to stall, he called legislators and went to the media — an interview on the BBC; an op-ed in the Washington Post.

Hall said it’s unacceptable to make people who risked their life for American ideals wait in dangerous situations for permission to come to the U.S.

“Every one of them that’s hunted down, every one of them that has to live in danger, or has their quality of life diminished because they served with Americans, it’s a tarnish to our national honor,” he said.

Iraqis still living in their country who worked for the U.S. government, or whose family members worked for the U.S., currently have to wait 18 months just to get an initial interview, according to the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project.

And it still take at least a year after that before they complete the process and potentially get on an airplane.

In Afghanistan, under a special visa program for Afghans who’ve worked for the U.S. government, there’s a backlog of 5,000 applications just to apply for the program.

Roy’s family waited nearly two years to get refugee status. Finally, on Feb. 12, they were scheduled to arrive at the San Diego International Airport.

Hall flew out from the East Coast to meet them.

Roy’s aunt and grandmother, who left Iraq several years ago and now live in San Diego, were also at the airport. They brought a big box of Iraqi chocolates and a dozen roses.

Roy’s cousin, who was also a military interpreter in Iraq, flew in from El Paso, Texas, to be part of the greeting committee.

“Yeah, they’re coming,” said Roy’s aunt excitedly as she spotted Roy’s father shuffling in to the terminal.

Hugs and kisses were passed around to Roy’s parents, his 11-year-old sister, and 22-year-old brother. The family looked exhausted; they’d been traveling for nearly 40 hours.

Back at the aunt’s apartment, the women brought out plates of food — rice croquettes stuffed with ground beef and almonds, and a kind of Iraqi pizza.

“Sit, eat!” Roy’s grandmother ordered us.

As it is for most refugees, finally arriving in a new country is a mixed bag.

“I’m happy and sad,” Roy’s mom said.

“Happy [for the] future of my children, but I’m sad [for] the future of my country. It’s bad, really bad.”

Over 8,000 Iraqi refugees have settled in San Diego County since 2005.

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Roy worked for nine months as an interpreter for U.S. military forces in Iraq. He was killed in an explosion in January 2008 along with six American soldiers.

Courtesy of Roy’s family

In the next few weeks, a local refugee resettlement agency will help the family get oriented and find an apartment. They’ll help get Roy’s sister enrolled in school, and help his father start looking for jobs.

For now, the family is relieved to be safe. And they credit Hall for that.

“I see Blake my angel,” Roy’s mom said in rough English.

“Really, really. The angel that God sent him to me,” she said.

Blake chuckled self-consciously from his place on the couch.

“Really, really, Blake,” she said earnestly.

“He’s like Roy. Because he loves Roy, I see Roy in him.”

The family’s first night in the U.S. wears on. In the morning, they’ll start the rest of their lives.

/><p class=
By Jill Replogle
Blake Hall looks at a montage of photos of Roy, his fallen Iraqi translator. Roy served as Hall’s translator for nine months during combat.

Why should America welcome these Iraqis into our country? Because it is the right thing to do.

For anyone interested, there is a Facebook page called the “Sinsil Seven” (or Sinsil Eight), honoring those U.S. soldiers who lost their lives, along with their brave, teenage Iraqi Interpreter.

Blake writes:

It was amazing to see the looks on the family’s face as they walked along the beach on Coronado Island. If you would like to meet the family in San Diego, or, more importantly, help Abdullah, Roy’s twenty-two year old brother, get a job, then please reach out to me and we’ll coordinate everything. blake@troopswap.com

/><p class=
By Jill Replogle
Hall met Roy’s mom for the first time when she stepped off the plane in San Diego. Since contacting her several years ago, the former Army captain has raised money for the family and worked to get them safely to the U.S.

This entry was posted in Immigration, Military, Support the Troops, The Iraqi War, True Heroes. Bookmark the permalink. Saturday, February 16th, 2013 at 6:00 pm
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12 Responses to Blake

  1. Petercat says: 1

    The solution is simple- fly them all to Mexico and they can walk across the border. It will take them just a few days instead of eighteen months, and the liberals will welcome them with open arms and shower them with all kinds of goodies that they won’t get if they come here legally.
    Oh, right, they want to come here legally. My bad.

    Obama and his cronies have about as much of an understanding of the term “debt of honor” as they do of the Constitution… The Bill of Rights… etc.

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  2. Randy says: 2

    There are still thousands of Iraqis who helped us. The current policy only addresses those who worked for us. I have several friends who are in Sweden and other countries waiting. We could not have been nearly as successful with out those who wanted something better for all Iraqis.

    ReplyReply
  3. Randy says: 3

    By the way, I did tell them about the Mexico route to the US, but they want to live as Americans do – with out fear. I think they are a few years late for that.

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  4. Wordsmith
    VERY TOUCHING STORY, that is your signature story all over,
    thank you , it is so very important for the troops to find someone they can trust in a foreign country
    where everything is different,
    they have desrved their open arms greeting in AMERICA,
    BUTOBAMA IS CHOOSING THE ILLEGALS NO MATTER IF THEY ARE CRIMINALS,
    THEY ARE FOR HIM THE NEW MAJORITY,
    PILGRIM? WHAT?

    ReplyReply
  5. joetote says: 5

    My son-in-law was in Afghanistan a bit over a year ago. He has told me the exact same stories about the interpreters, their braveness and unselfish service in what towards what they felt was helping not only their country but also the people trying to keep them free. As described above, he mentioned the roadblocks, etc. they encounter after they have fulfilled their obligation (for want of a better word). But he goes further on this.

    He told me about interpreters who once supposedly eligible to come to the U.S. that were then told they had to give another year! He told me how basically the U.S. under this President openly and blatantly gave false promises and lied to these people, never intending to relocate them and their families. and he told me about a man who became a personal friend who was killed while on his fourth stint of interpreting for our troops! four stints and he had been told again he wasn’t going to be eligible! The above is all true and kudos to Blake for fighting to get the family of this brave young man out.

    In my son-in-laws case, the entire family was murdered once hunted down, something that would not have happened if a once proud and honorable country had KEPT IT’S PROMISE!

    Closed eyed lefties whine and cry when I and others point out the fact that this country is not in anyway respected by the world anymore and why should we be! The lefties are more than willing to ignore the fact that a promise is our word and a broken promise leads to disaster and this is what we see now!

    Petercat say the following above: “Obama and his cronies have about as much of an understanding of the term “debt of honor” as they do of the Constitution… The Bill of Rights… etc.”

    It’s not just understanding the “debt of honor”. It’s the cold open fact that this President and his administration is in fact a wanna dictatorship, one that wants to strip all rights from all people. A tyrant does not and will not understand the term “debt of honor” any more than they would a “laws of the land thesis” Our citizenship, one that is eroding before our eyes chose to go with an unethical, hard core leftist moron who shows traces of Stalinism ( I truly believe this about him) and who in fact wouldn’t know what the word TRUTH means much less honor! I’m afraid what Wordsmith has once again pointed out in the end (as he and all on this site tend to do) is how we as a people have failed not only those allies and so forth who put their faith in us but in fact ourselves. We have lost our self worth and this President is leading the charge.

    ReplyReply
  6. Wordsmith says: 6

    Randy,

    I’d love to hear more- perhaps in the form of a blogpost?

    Joetote,

    Same with your son-in-law. I’d be interested in hearing more about his personal experience with those who risked their lives in trying to help us and help their country.

    I am not so sure, however, if this can be chalked up as a “blame Obama” problem and not an American bureaucratic nightmare problem.

    ReplyReply
  7. joetote says: 7

    @Wordsmith:

    I will get together with my son-in-law and see what I can do as to more info from him. that is a great idea. Most likely I’ll put it on my blog and in fact, I believe I have something there from a while ago that is pertinent to your post above

    As to it being a “bureaucratic nightmare problem”, I will buy into some of that but not much. We can all probably agree that the State Department has not exactly operated in the country’s best interest for many years mostly because of the entrenched leftists under the top layer. Having said that, I cannot remember a time in which this country reneged on their promises as frequently as now. Hillary and her puppet master talk a good talk, but when presented with the pure facts they cut and run. I cannot in my heart believe the so called Commander in Chief could not have prevented some of this. I firmly believe this entire administration, it’s State Department and for that matter our Justice Department (one just has to look at the asinine reasoning for drone attacks on American combatants as they also kill civilians) does not give one damn about any person in any country that aids our soldiers or is considered an ally.

    As I’ve said many times in the past, this is not something I say lightly. i do believe this President is intent on destroying the very basis of our country as it was founded and also believe he and his followers do not in any way support our traditional allies.

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  8. Wordsmith says: 8

    @joetote:

    I will get together with my son-in-law and see what I can do as to more info from him. that is a great idea. Most likely I’ll put it on my blog and in fact, I believe I have something there from a while ago that is pertinent to your post above

    Link it here if you find it; and I’m sure Curt would welcome a cross-post if you and your son-in-law write something up.

    ReplyReply
  9. joetote says: 9

    @Wordsmith: Will do. Don’t post as much as I used to. Funny thing called work gets in the way. LOL!

    ReplyReply
  10. on another issue, a 93 year old VETERAN IS MADE WAITING
    BECAUSE THE STUPID VETERAN AFFAIR ADMINISTRATION
    WANT HIM TO PROVE HE IS NOT ABLE TO WORK,
    TO ANSWER THE QUESTION
    THEY ANSWERED TO THAT THEY HAVE AN INCREASE IN DEMANDS
    SINCE THE OBAMA 2008 ELECTION,
    OF COURSE THERE IS A DEMAND BECAUSE OF OBAMA ROE,
    AND YOU AT THE VETERAN ADMINISTRATION JUST HAVE TO
    MOVE YOUR BUT AND USE YOUR BRAIN ON WHERE THE PRIORITIES ARE, OR GET OFF THE JOB AND LEAVE IT TO SOME WHO ARE MORE QUALIFIED,
    IS IN IT HORRIBLE TO HAVE AN ELDER 93 WAITING FOR WHAT IS HIS RIGHTFULY HIS BENEFITS,
    HEY VETERAN AFFAIRS ADMINISTRATION, WHICH SIDE ARE
    YOU?????

    ReplyReply
  11. Rasputin says: 11

    Roy was a brave patriot of his country. By why should the US be required to house the Iraqi patriots or their family in the US????

    ReplyReply
  12. Blake says: 12

    @Rasputin: It is a good thing to do, and I bet these people do not take the “gubbmint money”, as many of the Mexicans do-(with an attitude, no less)- this family helped the Americans when they did not have to, and men (and women) of honor pay their debts. It’s really simple, except to a liberal who has no conception of honor.

    ReplyReply

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