CHICAGO (CBS) — This story is about fate, and a twist that brought a Naperville woman back to her roots.
As CBS 2’s Marie Saavedra reported Thursday night, it happened in the skies over the Middle East and Europe, on a plane full of evacuees headed west.READ MORE: Investigation Underway After String Of Church Burglaries In Morgan Park
On any given day at O’Hare International Airport, thousands of flights push back from the gate. We met Artemis Bayandor there to talk about two that changed her life.
“The first thing they ask you during your interviews is, ‘Do you love people, and do you love to travel?’ and duh, yes, I do!” Bayandor said.
Bayandor is now with United Airlines’ corporate safety department after spending years in the sky as a flight attendant. But August brought an opportunity to get her back in the galley.
“There was like an all-call for anyone who speaks Farsi, Dari, or Pashto, so I was like, ‘Oh my God, I have to do this!’” she said.
Bayandor Iranian’s heritage made her the perfect candidate to serve an interpreter on two of United’s more than 60 flights dedicated to transporting thousands of people out of Afghanistan.
“From the D.C. area out to Europe, then from Europe into the Middle East,” she said.READ MORE: Another Victim Of Serial Killer John Wayne Gacy Identified: Francis Wayne Alexander, Of North Carolina
Bayandor and the crew met evacuees who had left Kabul, picking them up at military bases, before bringing them to the U.S.
She said her initial welcome was saying, “Welcome aboard, come on in!” in Farsi.
On board, she bonded most with mothers, and in one woman’s story, Bayandor’s life came full-circle.
“She told me there was this absolute fear and want and need to protect her two daughters and get them out of the country as soon as possible, and that really resonated with me,” she said, “because you know, 33 years ago, my mother did exactly the same thing.”
In 1988, Bayandor’s mother and her two daughters boarded a plane to leave war-torn Iran and start a new life. Bayandor she remembers stepping on board, and seeing that crew.
“They were so kind and so bright, and it was different from how we saw women in Iran,” she said.
And so this summer, Bayandor helped those sitting where she sat.MORE NEWS: Teen Charged In Pair Of September 2020 Carjackings On South Side
“They know that people like us are here to help them, and I’m forever grateful for that,” she said, “because that’s the feeling that I got when I was a little girl.”