DVIDS – News – Army Commander and translator connect 10 years later
FORT McCOY, Wisconsin – After nearly 20 years since their first collaboration, a commander of the United States Army and a former translator for Coalition Forces in Afghanistan were able to reconnect here during Operation Allies Welcome.
In 2011, Lt. Col. Joseph Mickley, then captain and company commander for the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, met Nasir, a translator for the International Forces of security assistance in Afghanistan, resulting in a friendship that spanned two decades of life events.
“Our unit was one of the last units to take on a combat mission in Afghanistan because the military was just starting to move into an advisory role, but one of my initial tasks was to go to Qalat to recuperate. all of our linguists for the operations we were going to do, “said Mickley.” I went down to the building where we were to meet the interpreters and opened the door, and it was just, boom, that’s where I met Nasir. “
Initially, however, Mickley, now Commanding Officer of 1st Squadron, 32nd Cavalry Regiment, 1st Combat Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), did not work directly with Nasir.
“I remember when I started working with his unit, there was another translator working with him named Mustafa, but then he had to leave,” Nasir said. “Mustafa asked me if I wanted to work with the captain and if so he would introduce us. I said, ‘I can’t work with a captain because he has a big responsibility, he’s the commander of a company and he’s in charge of a big area, so I just want to distract him.
“Then after a few Shura meetings in the villages, Mustafa finally introduced me to the captain and after that I enjoyed talking with him and knew I was good to work with him. From there we started to work a lot together and built a good relationship and then a friendship. “
For Mickley, the working relationship couldn’t have been better for him and his unit.
“It got to a point where we were like one person, where he knew my intention and if I was going to talk about something he could already express what I needed to say to anyone we were interacting with at. that time, ”he said.
Nasir first became a translator after being encouraged by his family to find a way to improve his life.
“They thought I would be perfect for the job, so I enrolled in courses to study English at an institute for a year, then I became a teacher for six months at the same institute,” he said. declared. “After I finished I took a test to get a certificate and then got hired by an agency. “
It turns out that Nasir’s family’s belief in him was actually more than just family encouragement.
“I would say we were very happy with Nasir from the start, as he could speak Dari and Pashto, as well as read and write in both languages, and this is a unique and rare find, especially for a linguist at the time, ”Mickley says. “So with Nasir from the region he really knew the customs and intricacies of different cultures, but the point is, he was so educated and really had a unique skill that you couldn’t find in other linguists.”
Throughout Mickley’s months of deployment, the two forged a friendship that was forged through a constant chain of patrols, convoys, Shuras with the villagers, meetings with the Afghan National Army and everything in between. .
“There were a lot of dangerous missions then,” Mickley said. “Just to describe the area, our area of responsibility was very large, so we sometimes had to travel 10 miles to different villages, or we would go out to supply the Afghan forces who were essentially alone in the middle of nowhere. Missions often took three days to get to each location, and everyone could see us, so the roads were simply blocked by improvised explosive devices.
With the deployment ending and the inevitable separation looming, the two began to wonder if they would meet again.
“It’s always a fear that you won’t see someone you have built such a close relationship with again,” Mickley said. “You have this very close bond and this close relationship, and it’s basically like leaving his family and wondering what’s going to happen to him, where is he going to go, things like that.
“The interesting thing about us is that we’ve been able to stay in touch over the years through messengers and things like that. “
Nasir was quick to agree with Mickley.
“I always thought about my time with the company after they left,” he said. “Even when working with other battalions, I thought about how great my time was with the captain and how successful he was in establishing and establishing relationships with the ANA or the villages. I always hope to meet him again.
Many years later, neither of them knew they would be so lucky just days before arriving at Fort McCoy.
“I had no idea he was coming back to America because we’ve lost a bit of contact over the last few years, maybe a few hello messages here and there,” Mickley explained. “I had been warned to prepare to come here and the day before I left I was sitting on the couch with my wife watching TV when my messaging app rang. I looked at him, and there was Nasir in a Wisconsin sweatshirt.
“I asked him where he was and he said he was at the base in Wisconsin and had arrived there the day before. He didn’t know I was going up there; he just wanted to tell me he had arrived in America. So I probably didn’t fall asleep until maybe 2am, because we were just talking all night, and I was really excited because I knew we were going to get to meet again.
Once Mickley and his unit arrived at Fort McCoy, the two arranged to meet a few days later.
“Once we located everything and the soldiers settled in I texted him asking where he was and after work we met,” Mickley said. “I met his family, and it was just amazing because he had no family when I first met him.”
For Nasir, it was just as amazing.
“The first time we met here he was confused,” he laughed. “He said I looked so much older.”
Listening to this, Mickley also laughed.
“When I first met him he was so young and had no family,” he said with a big smile. “We spent about an hour catching up, drinking chai and all that. It was so good to see him again and meet his family in person.
Just as Nasir’s family knew Mickley, Mickley’s family knew Nasir.
“They all know him,” Mickley said with a laugh.
Over the past 20 years, the two families have bonded closely.
“When I showed my wife a photo of his wife,” Nasir explained, “I told her it was your sister, and they became friends on Facebook. I have photos of her children, and when we first met they were young, but now they are in the army.
With Nasir and his family, now in America and ready to start their new lives, Mickley does everything he can to provide him with a support system.
“I think it would be great to have him move with his family to Fort Campbell, but we have to go through the process to make that happen,” he said. “It’s not an easy process, I can’t just say, ‘Hey, I want him and his family to settle down with us and I know I can take care of them’ because you have to work through the system. “
While both have spent time reflecting on the past 20 years, both are also looking to the future.
“I think it’s only natural that when you spend a lot of time with someone like we did, a conversation arises about life in America, and I knew someone like Nasir would have a happy life in America, ”Mickley said. “So naturally you start to want to help them have that life in the future. “
Nasir continued this sentiment.
“For me, it’s not that he’s going to help me… I’m going to work with him, because I’m going to work to have a good future in America, and I know I’m going to do it,” Nasir said. “Right now, I’m pretty sure I won’t have a problem in America because I have it.”
|Date posted:||10.18.2021 14:31|
|Site:||FORT MCCOY, WI, United States|
|Hometown:||GETTYSBURG, Pennsylvania, United States|
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