POWAY, Calif. (KGTV) - A local Marine veteran is sharing his relief after helping the Afghan translator he worked with, get to the airport in Kabul.
As the Taliban takeover unfolded, Marine veteran Dustin Ivers launched a mission to help Orlando, the translator he worked with during a deployment in Helmand Province a decade ago.
“All I could think about was Orlando. Frantic, desperation. I thought my friend and his family were going to be killed,” said Ivers.
Ivers launched a letter-writing campaign to members of Congress.
“I did get contact right back from Scott Peters’ office. They worked with me and made sure his papers were transferred to the State Department to get him on a flight list,” said Ivers.
Meanwhile, Ivers had tapped into an underground network of veterans, contractors and active-duty military with real-time data on the ground, including the location of Taliban checkpoints.
Ivers sent Orlando instructions through an encrypted messaging app to meet military personnel at a certain time and place outside a gate. The journey would be harrowing.
“The directions that we told him was to not actually take hard copies of the papers. ‘Wipe your phone, and once you get to airport, I'll send you everything back,’” said Ivers.
Orlando and his wife, six months pregnant, managed to go around all the checkpoints but one, which they got through. Last Friday, Orlando called Ivers to say they were safe.
“To get that call that he had made it and was with the Marines, was everything,” said an emotional Ivers.
Orlando spent the next two days helping translate for US troops before his paperwork went through.
“Proud of him … shows his selfless dedication,” said Ivers.
On Tuesday, Orlando and his wife boarded a military flight, bound for Germany. Ivers says Orlando is hoping to resettle in the San Diego area.
“A few of us from his squad are here. He’ll have a huge support system if he ends up in San Diego. Plus, I can teach him how to surf,” said Ivers.
Ivers has set up a GoFundMe campaign to help Orlando begin his new life in the US.