SALT LAKE CITY — An Afghan refugee now relocated to the Beehive State says he was saved at the Kabul Airport by many of the U.S. service members there, including Utah’s Staff Sgt. Taylor Hoover.
Hoover was killed in the attack, but Afghan refugee Sayed told FOX 13 on Saturday that the fallen Marine's sacrifice saved thousands of lives.
Sayed has worked as a translator and interpreter for the U.S. for nearly six years. When he first began working in Afghanistan, he was 18 years old.
"We became friends, really good friends," Sayed said of the Americans he worked alongside.
Sayed has fond memories of celebrating Christmas at the U.S. base with his fellow soldiers.
“We used to go out and do patrols around the base," he said. "We used to laugh and play games.”
There were good times and rough times — Sayed recalls the Taliban attacking their base many times.
Sayed said the Taliban fired 11 rockets at their base during one of the anniversaries of the 9/11 attacks.
The Taliban's inability to find their exact whereabouts meant very few were harmed. Sayed said the only ones injured were Afghans.
During the pandemic, a lot of their operations changed, and Sayed said he didn't translate video calls as often.
In August of 2021, everything changed.
Knowing the Taliban would have full control soon, Sayed tried to evacuate.
It took him months to get to the Kabul Airport, and once there, the crowds made it nearly impossible to reach the gates, let alone get through them.
Sayed reached out to his friends and fellow U.S. comrades through social media, letting them know he was trapped.
“The Army guys, the Marine guys, they were just trying to help me," he recalled. "They were sending me texts, emails and sources to help me.”
As Sayed watched multiple planes take off full of evacuees, the Taliban froze his U.S. bank account and bombed his family's house.
All family members survived, but Sayed wondered if he would make it out of Afghanistan alive.
Finally, Sayed was given the name of a U.S. commander and a passcode to help get him through the gate.
It was there at the gate that Sayed saw Hoover.
“He was just taking the names, taking notes, and we saw those Marines were helping the Afghans, the kids and females," said Sayed.
That was Aug. 24, the last day Sayed was in Afghanistan.
Two days later, the airport was attacked, leaving Hoover and 12 other U.S. service members dead.
“They saved us. They saved me. They saved my friends," said Sayed. "They saved more than 100,000. They did a great job.”
After more than 13 hours on an airplane, Sayed touched down at the Dulles International Airport in Virginia.
The process to move to Utah took the help of other U.S. service members setting up a GoFundMe for Sayed and bringing him over.
Sayed is now trying to help his family back in Afghanistan.
He's also working to get his green card in hopes to join the U.S. military.