The soldiers who served with him in Afghanistan call him “Fred.”
Fraidoon Akhtari participated in more than 500 combat missions, translating for the U.S. military for the past 13 years.
On Sunday, after a harrowing wait of nearly five years, Fred and his wife and two children walked through the arrivals hall at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, D.C.
Sgt. Ryan Craig and 25 members of the Pennsylvania National Guard’s 103rd Armor Regiment, and the veteran charity No One Left Behind greeted him at the airport, recalling how he saved all of their lives at a remote combat outpost.
“Completely cut off, no air support, limited artillery support, and throughout the entire battle Fred was redirecting us, ‘Hey, they’re going to come from the east side. They’re going to come from the west side, you guys need to shift fire this way,’” Craig, who recently separated from the Army, recalled. “And just giving us that valuable actionable intelligence that single-handedly kept all of us safe.”
It took years of pushing an entrenched U.S. government bureaucracy to get Fred and his family a Special Immigrant Visa to the U.S. and out of harm’s way.
Former FBI agent David Lemoine disobeyed his doctor who told him not to fly after open heart surgery a month ago. He arrived from Omaha, Nebraska, where Fred and his family will be resettled with the help of Lutheran Services. He explained what would have happened had Fred stayed in Afghanistan.
Fred had trouble getting a visa “because he assisted in the capture of a high-ranking Taliban member,” Lemoine said. “So a death threat was placed on his life and they put a note on his father’s door and they said, ‘We know where your son is going… he will be captured alive and he…