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Gulf Coast military veteran leading push to help Afghan interpreters as troops withdraw from Middle East

Published: Jul. 12, 2021 at 2:03 PM CDT
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Some military veterans, including one Gulf Coast resident who served for seven years in the U.S. Marine Corps, want to make sure the troop withdrawal in Afghanistan includes Afghan interpreters.

Former marine Moises Espinal spent two tours of duty in Afghanistan and said while he was there, interpreters were vital to the U.S. war effort.

“A greater portion of our mission success in those two deployments was due to the help of our interpreters,” Espinal said. “These guys came from all over Afghanistan. They wanted what you and I would want for our children, a safe place to grow up, a good economy, a country where they can walk outside their homes and not get blown up.”

As American forces continue to withdraw troops, Espinal and other military veterans are now on a mission to make sure those 20,000 interpreters are also able to get out before the Taliban completely gains control.

“We’ve been reaching out to our respective congressmen and senators to just expedite the process of getting these guys out of Afghanistan,” Espinal added. “With the quickness of the Taliban advancing, if we don’t get those guys out prior to the withdraw of the U.S. forces, they’re going to be made a target. One of my interpreters, let’s call him ‘Lucky,’ received a Taliban-wide letter saying if we catch you outside of your house, we’re gonna kill you. So he’s in hiding.”

Espinal said he’s gotten positive feedback so far from state and national lawmakers. He also said he’s in favor of the troop withdrawal, but he and others just want to make sure those Afghan interpreters get out of the country.

“I know there’s a lot of vetting that needs to be done, I completely understand. We don’t want to jeopardize national security just to show good faith,” he said.

He hopes the momentum will lead to action soon because time is running out.

“These men walked beside us every day,” Espinal said. “We have a moral responsibility to these people.”

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