Local veteran still fighting to get US citizen stuck in Afghanistan home
DELTONA, Fla. - The last of American troops departing Afghanistan took off just one minute before midnight on Tuesday in Kabul.
The departure marked the official end of the war and the presence of U.S. troops in the country. Although, not everyone made it out.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken estimates 100 to 200 U.S. citizens were left behind. One of them has ties to Ocala retired Army veteran Tracy Swanson.
"I’m extremely worried that my friends will not make it out of Afghanistan and if that happens I will go to my grave with this thing," said Swanson.
For the last two-and-a-half weeks Swanson has been fighting harder than ever to ensure the safe extraction of his Afghan Interpreters and their families from Kabul. One of those interpreters who Swanson refers to as "Johnny" is a U.S. citizen.
"I actually wish I can go back right now and get them out myself," said Swanson.
Johnny flew from the U.S. to Kabul, Afghanistan when the evacuation chaos began, against the wishes of Swanson. Johnny’s goal was to keep his wife and son out of the grips of the Taliban and get them to the US. They were not on the last flight out.
"In my opinion, this is one of the darkest days in American history," said Swanson.
Johnny, his wife, and his young son’s attempts to evacuate were squandered by Taliban checkpoints around the airport. Now, Swanson is urging them to escape the country.
If they make it safely the Embassy can secure them a flight home. The nearest ones are about six to eight hours away from Johnny and his family, but, the path is lined with Taliban checkpoints.
"If they get caught with any American documentation on them or any English words on their phone they will be imprisoned or killed," said Swanson.
Swanson fears losing a brother who fought proudly with U.S. troops --a brother he and the U.S. government promised a better life. It is a promise still owed. he said.
"We hired you. We told you that if you help us we will get you out and we left you there and I am terribly, terribly sorry for that," said Swanson. "I’m praying for each and every one of you."
Johnny and his family would have to pay for flights back to the US. To help, Swanson has started a fundraiser to cover their tickets home. All proceeds will go to Swanson’s Afghan interpreters.
Watch FOX 35 News for the latest updates on the crisis in Afghanistan.