Like many American veterans who saw action on the troubled soil of Afghanistan, Retired Marine Colonel Eric Terashima is determined to help evacuate Afghan allies who fought and supported them against the Taliban in the last two decades.

The administration had seven months to put a well-thought evac plan to extract everything from the deployed American troops to millions-worth of weapon systems to allies. Still, the administration didn’t do anything until the very last minute—as everybody and the world saw it, it was a mess.

Terashima described last year, as he puts it, as an “insane whirlwind” of getting people out of Afghanistan that he eventually lost tally of the total headcount he helped. He served as a forward operating base commander in Afghanistan until 2020, and during his deployment, he met dozens of locals at his outpost, where he got to live and work; some of them he even bonded with.

“Anytime anybody got injured… Afghans are very expressive emotionally. They were literally crying as we were evacuating our casualties. That’s how much it hurt them personally. That brings a closeness when you’re working together for nine months, as long as I was there,” Terashima recalled in an interview published in WUSF Public Media.

Eric Terashima and other US Veterans Helps Afghan allies to flee the country
(Screenshot from WUSF Public Media)

Besides women and children, Afghan interpreters were among the at-risk people due to the nature of their work. It’s practically painting a target on your back because of their close involvement with the US military. So, when Terashima was scheduled to leave, he told them, “if they ever needed anything, they should just let me know.”

And call, they did.

The first one to reach out was his former interpreter, who contacted him a few months before the scurry evac. Manzoor was granted by the State Department a special immigrant visa but was, unfortunately, lacking in funds for “airfare and medical clearance” that would allow him to bring his whole family to the US. Nevertheless, the retired Marine didn’t hesitate to lend a helping hand and even launched a GoFundMe just to cover Manzoor’s needed expenses.

“He asked me if I would let him buy plane tickets for me and my family members,” Manzoor said. “He said, ‘I want you and your loved ones to be safe,’ and that wherever I plan to go in the US, he will help and support me to get resettled and find a job… I was almost crying. It was like a miracle for me.”