BROOMFIELD, Colo. (CBS4)– An Afghan interpreter says a Broomfield couple pulled off a miracle that helped him and his family escape Afghanistan. CBS4 first reported on the evacuation effort by Army Veteran Scott Henkel and his wife Heidi two weeks ago.
On Friday, a wave of emotion washed over Scott as he heard a voice he thought he might never hear again.
“It’s still unbelievable how I was able to get out of the situation,” said Ahmad Khalid Siddiqi, or Kevin, as he was known to the American soldiers he served with for 10 years in Afghanistan, a country he watched collapse overnight. “It just disappeared in a matter of two weeks.”
His voice was filled with anguish, but also gratitude, “It’s impossible to believe that yesterday the suicide attack happened at the exact same spot yesterday where I was standing with my kids… the exact same spot was attacked and 100 people, including many great soldiers, were killed. I just want to tell all U.S. citizens to please be proud of your army.”
It was an Army family that helped him escape.
Heidi Henkel took to social media the day the Taliban took control, “We’ve lived in Texas, Washington, North Carolina, Alabama, Maryland, we’ve lived everywhere and everyone’s lives have been touched by Kevin.”
Three hundred people from around the world became part of the evacuation effort, she says, all working their contacts.
Kevin was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support, “There are a lot of people I have to appreciate, thank, I’m grateful… They did a lot for me.”
Scott Henkel says his mission is now complete, “It’s all worth it now. All worth it.”
But, he says, our mission has only begun, “There are thousands of Kevins coming to America and we owe them and I, as a vet, am asking people to adopt them, embrace them, love on them.”
Kevin says he feels as though he already has a family in Colorado, “Today a soldier asked me, ‘What’s your final destination?’ and proudly I said, ‘Colorado.'”
The Henkels don’t know how or when Kevin will get to Colorado. His journey so far is almost unbelievable. From Kabul, he went to Qatar, where he says 30,000 people were crowded into a military base in 105-degree heat. A soldier there told him a military plane was leaving for a “better place” so he took a chance and boarded it. It wasn’t until the pilot said “Welcome to Italy” that he realized where they were.
The Henkels say the U.S. needs to stay in Afghanistan until all the other “Kevin’s” are evacuated.