CHICAGO (CBS) — As thousands try to get out of Afghanistan, an Afghan refugee is back safe in Chicago after being rescued by a U.S. military plane in Kabul.
He spoke exclusively with CBS 2’s Asal Rezaei on how he was able to escape with his family.READ MORE: Worries Of A 'Twindemic' As Flu Season Coincides With The COVID-19 Pandemic
Feraidoon Hotak is an Afghan refugee. He worked as a translator for the U.S. Army in Afghanistan before coming to the U.S. in 2007 with a special immigrant visa.
He went back to Afghanistan with his wife and four kids in May for a three month trip to visit family. Hotak never imagined they would end up running for their lives.
“When I came outside. I saw a couple of Taliban, that people were very worried and scared,” Hotak said. “Most people were rushing to the airport.”
That was last Friday. He said they had heard talks of the Taliban taking over the capitol in maybe 90 days, but never expected the takeover to happen so quickly. Before he knew it, he was at Kabul Airport trying to find a way to get them back to the U.S.
“Thousands of thousands of people rushing to the gate, asking the Americans to get them out of the country,” he said.READ MORE: Simeon Career Academy Student Shot And Killed Just Blocks From School
Now a U.S. citizen, he grabbed his wife and children. He said he tells he begged a U.S. Marine to get them on one of those planes.
They made it on one of those planes. It flew them from Kabul to Qatar overnight. The next day, they were flown to Kuwait where they were put on a commercial flight to Washington D.C.
Hotak said every minute of that two night journey was worth it, to get back to his home in Chicago.
While they made it home with nothing but the clothes on their back, Hotak said he’s still concerned about his family that got left behind. One of his brothers, a translator for the U.S. military, has slept near the Kabul Airport for days hoping to get on a plane to the U.S.
“He actually worked, he served, shoulder to shoulder with the United States Army. He went to the patrols. He is being left behind,” Hotak said. “Hopefully they get him and they get my family.”
A harrowing journey that many are hoping to make for a chance at freedom.MORE NEWS: Some Schools In Oswego Forced To Go Remote After Dozens Of Bus Drivers Call In Sick
Hotak has filed the necessary paperwork for his family still in Afghanistan to obtain refugee and special visas (SIVs) and is waiting to hear back from government officials.