CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- A native of Afghanistan who served as a Colonel in the Afghan National Army is giving back to U.S. Marines by serving as an interpreter.
The 57-year-old man, who goes by the name “Mr. Wazir” in order to ensure the safety of his family, served as an interpreter for Combat Logistics Regiment 7, 1st Marine Logistics Group, during their most recent deployment to Afghanistan, from April-October 2011, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
“As the interpreter for CLB-7, I was the voice of communication between the US Marines, local people, Afghan National Police, Afghan National Army, and other coalition forces,” said Wazir. “I assisted in the effective interaction and communication with all parties to ensure a strong and trustworthy relationship that resulted in a safer environment and a completed mission.”
Wazir worked hand in hand with the Marines and local nationals on missions by serving as a filter between the two cultures while CLB-7 Marines paved new roads in various areas of Helmand Province.
“He was very effective in engaging locals and challenging their negative views of America and worked to help them see the benefit of our engineering missions to their lives,” said 1st Lt. Garrett Verhagen, platoon commander, Bravo Company, 7th Engineer Support Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 1.
Oftentimes during the deployment, Wazir helped to diffuse tense situations, allowing for positive relationships to grow between the Marines and local nationals while the Marine engineers worked to accomplish their mission.
“At the beginning of our work, especially in new areas, the local people looked at us like we were their enemies,” said Wazir. “They thought we had come there to occupy their country and to fight against their religion. By the time the Marines had completed their project, however, you could see the happy and thankful faces of the innocent local people who really needed these work projects. They were thankful that the CLB-7 engineers did all of this work for them for free, and they also realized that not one of the US Marines was against their religion or their culture.”
In addition to local infrastructure projects, the Marines provided medical care to local nationals, and Marines sometimes passed out candy and gifts to the local children.
“Several times the local people told me that the ‘US Marines are the real angels’ which are sent by God to help them,” said Wazir.
Serving with CLB-7 wasn’t Wazir’s first encounter with the military. He served in the Afghan National Army for more than 15 years and achieved the rank of colonel. He moved to the United States in 2005 with his family and was nationalized as a U.S. citizen earlier this year.
“I cannot describe my emotion,” said Wazir of becoming a U.S. citizen. “It is impossible to write down that feeling. I was very happy because when I received U.S. citizenship certificate... I am American and now it is my America.”
Wazir expressed how much he enjoyed working with Marines.
“It is very nice to work with U.S. Marines,” he said. “I enjoy the work and I am proud of them. When you are working with honest, confident and professional people and doing something with a good result, you feel like a real human who is doing what God created us to do. Our Marines are the most honest and [proud] people.”
Wazir also said he enjoyed assisting Marines to “help the people and government of Afghanistan and to provide safety and security for them, support them to have a peaceful country … and [provide] security of their country from the attacks of terrorism and world extremism.”
His next mission will be working with the Marines of Combat Logistics Battalion 1 as they prepare for their upcoming deployment to Afghanistan.
“Working with my U.S. Marines,” Wazir said, “I found that I have a new, great, honest, helpful and a big family.”