DENVER — A Colorado woman says she walked nearly two miles with her children, heard gunfire erupting nearby and climbed over the wall at the Kabul airport as she attempted to flee Afghanistan.
"When we arrived, there was already a lot of people and sometimes they were shooting," said the woman. "We show our passport, like we have passport. Please, let us to get inside."
The woman was worried she could be in danger if the Taliban saw her United States passport or found out her husband previously assisted U.S. Armed Forces. Her husband spent five years working as an interpreter for the Marines and other special forces before the couple moved to Colorado in 2014. They recently became U.S. citizens.
Denver7 is not using their names or showing their faces because the couple believes the Taliban could retaliate against family members who are still in Afghanistan.
"For the Taliban, if you have any way of communication or any way of relation with the U.S. you are automatically labeled a spy, and if you are caught. you are dead on the spot. They will shoot you. They will shoot you on the spot, and they will kill you," the former interpreter said.
The husband and his wife decided to visit family in Afghanistan earlier this summer. He said they wanted to go back one last time before the United States pulled out because he feared it would be too dangerous to return after.
"We thought that would be our last chance to go see our family. We knew it was going to go bad sometime after they leave so we took that chance, we went to go visit our family," the husband said.
They had no idea how quickly things would deteriorate. The husband stayed for three weeks but left because he had to get back to work. His wife stayed with the kids and was supposed to fly home on Aug. 5, but she had appendicitis and ended up needing emergency surgery.
Her flight was rescheduled for Aug. 16, but the airline canceled amid the unrest. The woman's husband began to panic, wondering how his wife would be able to fly out and if she was safe.
"She called me crying that there’s Taliban all over Kabul and they’re going door-to-door and stuff like that," the husband said. "There was nothing we could do. Going to the airport was very dangerous, there was Taliban everywhere my kid and my wife has a U.S. passport, and we didn’t want them to get caught."
The couple was also in touch with retired Army Special Forces Col. Patrick Allen, who assisted with their move to the United States seven years ago. Allen made phone calls to U.S. senators and the state department, trying to do everything he could to help the wife and kids get out. He's known them for so long that he considers them family.
"It was like, my god, we’ve got to get her out of there — so very concerned. She would’ve lost her life if the Taliban would’ve caught her and found out her husband was an interpreter for the Marine Corps," Allen said.
The wife ultimately decided to make her way to the airport with her cousin, who is also a U.S. citizen. She said the traffic was so bad near the airport, they were forced to walk nearly two miles. They heard gunfire nearby, and her kids were scared. She said it took hours to get inside.
The woman explained how her cousin made it over the wall at the airport and she handed her the child, but when she tried to go over the wall, she was stopped.
"The kid was on the other side and she had to make it on top of the wall, and when she made it on top of the wall, the U.S. Army pointed a gun at her and, 'Hey, get down. You’re not supposed to be there," and she said, 'I’m a U.S. citizen.' At that time, another solider got her passport and checked her name," the husband said.
After multiple flights, the wife arrived in Denver over the weekend, and she's still trying to process the harrowing experience. Her younger child is still jet lagged, and the older child started school this week.
Although the family is safe, they're still extremely worried about relatives in Afghanistan who are now in hiding.
"We’re trying everything we can to get them out of the country, but I think it’s so hard to get answers," the husband said.
Allen is also working to help their extended family and others escape. He has a list with the names of people who are still trying to flee before the Aug. 31 evacuation deadline.
"It’s imperative we do everything we can to help those that especially helped us and try to get them out — do everything we can to try to get them out — and get them resettled in the United States," Allen said. "It’s the right thing to do."
Allen and the family are continuing to field phone calls and text messages from people who are looking for help getting out.
“I think today is the day. I think the U.S. has to honor the promise that they made," the husband said. "The only thing we want: We want all of our families to be saved. I mean, the only thing that we want is for our family not to be executed for what we did, and what we did was help U.S. Armed Forces."