NEBRASKA CITY – Nebraska City Rotarians gave a standing ovation Wednesday to Eraidoon Akhtari who served as an interpreter for the U.S. military in Afghanistan.
Former FBI agent Dave Lemoines introduced Akhtari , who was nicknamed Fred by US soldiers, noting he had went on over 300 missions and was involved in over 100 attacks.
Born in Kubal during the midst of the Soviet invasion, Fred experienced civil war among tribes and the rise of the Taliban in 1996.
After Nine-Eleven happened, the U.S. started sending support to them. Lemoines says the Taliban was driven out by 2003, but the war continues.
Lemoines: “So, all of his life, he had never lived a day in peace. The first day he lived in peace was July 16, 2017, when he and his wife and two children stepped off the plane in Washington, D.C., first time in his life in 30 years.”
Lemoines said Fred had to leave his native country because he was particularly hated by the enemy for his work with the Americans, but, despite his military service, his immigration to the United States was wrought with red tape and delays.
Fred interpreted for the US Army from 2004 to 2009, gaining notoriety for monitoring scanner traffic that gave Americans warning about an attack on a military outpost in the Lagman Province. After he identified a top Taliban leader to the Americans, his family received death threats.
Because the local population saw Fred helping the Americans in this way, he was targeted for death by a religious Fatwah. He was moved to another area for his safety and served as a security supervisor from 2010 to 2017.
Fred told Rotarians that peace in Afghanistan is the hope and the necessity for him and his family, but he is grateful for the peace here in his new home.
Fred: “Since I’ve been in Omaha, I haven’t seen any helicopter. I haven’t seen any armed soldier walking around. Even, I haven’t seen armored vehicles. I have missed all of that. In Kabul, when I was living over there, we used to see a big convoy every day.
It doesn’t matter why they are here, but they are driving around trying to bring security, but since I’m over here, I haven’t heard a gunshot.”
Lemoines said Fred’s role as an interpreter is more than listening to interviews in the office.
Lemoines: “It’s getting into a Humvee, wearing a uniform with body armor, carrying a weapon and going on patrol with these guys. Getting vehicles blown out from under you, getting shot at and shooting back.”
He said a change of the leadership of Afghanistan is needed to bring peace to the people.
Fred: “They don’t care about the civilian. They don’t care about the Afghan nation. They do care about their own benefit. This is the only thing they do right now.”
Lemoines said Americans need to know about the misconception that Muslims hate us. He said there are terrorists, but most of the Muslims are people like Fred, who at the age of 18, stood up to help rid Afghanistan of terrorism.
Lemoines: “He’s going to be a great American.”