Milford veteran works to get translators' families out of Afghanistan
A Milford native who spent 21 years in the military is working to see that no one is left behind by trying to get translators' families out of Afghanistan.
Joe Fleming is a retired master sergeant with the Air Force. He enlisted after graduating from Foran High School and his service included a year in at the Kabul International Airport, from August 2011 through August 2012.
"I was embedded with the Afghan National Army and I have a lot of close friends over there that are trying to get out of the country - translator families," he says. "I had 25-30 translators that worked for me and now their families are stuck."
Fleming says a lot of his efforts are covert, but that he has 100 people who've escaped Kabul and are now stuck at border crossings.
"These people are in severe danger and I won't turn my back," he says.
He became emotional at one point while talking to News 12's Marissa Alter when explaining what he's seen and heard over the past few days.
"I've witnessed live executions. One of my translator's brother got killed. It's horrible," Fleming says.
Fleming says there's a plane waiting in a neighboring country to get these people out immediately, but he needs the U.S. government's backing.
"The State Department has refused to help open any borders in Afghanistan and we need that help immediately. These people are running out of money, they're going to starve. If they get caught, reprehensible things will happen that are unspeakable," he says.
Fleming says he's spoken with officials including Sen. Richard Blumenthal. He says he's going public with his mission in hopes that will get action for the people who loyally aided the United States against terrorism.
"We entrusted them our lives and most of us, they kept safe," says Fleming. "They did a damn good job of it."
Fleming says he won't stop his fight.
"I am 70% disabled, PTSD, through the VA, and this reopens a lot," he says. "They've been faithful to us. The least I can do is be faithful to them."
Fleming says the group Veterans for America First is raising money for evacuation efforts. For more information to donate and how to help, click here.