BROOMFIELD, Colo. (CBS4) — An effort is underway in Colorado to save an Afghan interpreter who saved the lives of countless American soldiers. Army veteran Scott Henkel is among those veterans. He says he took an oath to leave no man behind, and is now fighting against all odds to uphold it.

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His Afghan interpreter, a man who put his life on the line for our country when we needed him, now needs us. The interpreter, his wife and four young children are trapped in Kabul, waiting for the U.S. government to save them.

“We deployed hundreds of times together, in conditions that were extreme heat and extreme cold, as well as extreme danger,” said Henkel. “The United States of America committed to him and other interpreters that we will take care of you, that we will be there for you.”

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For ten years, he and his wife Heidi have tried to secure visas for the family, even obtaining a letter of recommendation from a Brigadier General. Their latest request was denied Wednesday, days before the Taliban took control.

“As soon as America pulls out, the Taliban’s response will be swift and it will be brutal,” said Henkel. “By working with the U.S. forces, [the interpreter] aligned himself with us, and he received threats consistently for his life because he was in their eyes betraying Islam by helping the U.S.”

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Henkel and his wife have been texting and calling the interpreter as chaos erupts around them.

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“He’s messaging me and showing me pictures from outside the building where he and his family are staying,” Heidi Henkel said, showing us his last message.

It read, “I need your prayers. I feel so helpless.”

Kevin is how they refer to the interpreter. Our government, they say, gave him its word.

“The honor of America is on the line,” she said. “And we need to toe this line for ‘Kevin’ and these families. They are relying on America — the ones they sacrificed their lives and their families’ lives for — because the Taliban takes no prisoners.”

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“We knew this was coming and we should have planned for this,” Henkel said. “If we don’t get ‘Kevin’ out, my year over there and the scars that came with it don’t count anymore, doesn’t matter anymore, it was worthless. We owe him.”

Henkel says his interpreter worked for the United States for 10 years and is among of thousands of Afghan interpreters whose lives are now at risk. The United Nations, he says, has all their names, and the Taliban, he says, likely has the names too.

Among those trying to help the interpreter and his family get out of the country are Colorado Congressmen Ken Buck, Joe Neguse, Jason Crow and Ed Perlmutter along with Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper.


Shaun Boyd