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American Soldier Desperately Tries to Save Iraqi Translator

For many Iraqi translators working with Americans in the war, their profession may choose their fate. Often condemned as traitors or spies, they face the ridicule and death threats made by their own people, sometimes ending in torture or death. For one translator, Bandar Hasan, his relationship with an American serviceman may have saved his life.

Joey Coon, then an Army National Guard sergeant, became buddies with Hasan while serving in Iraq. According to Coon, Hasan was a translator who could spot dangers in the shadows. The two remained in communication via telephone and email after Coon's deployment was finished. They joked about Hasan moving to the U.S., an idea that to Hasan, seemed a stretch of reality.

One morning, Coon received a phone call from Hasan, saying it was urgent he leave Iraq. Hasan no longer served as a translator and was indeed running for his life.

This story is all too common for Iraqi translators. Luckily, Hasan reached out to Coon, who committed to doing all he could to get his friend to the United States and out of harm's way.

Many soldiers have banded together to protect the Iraqi translators that have served them dutifully in the war, having, like Coon and Hasan, become friends. In 2007, the United States passed a law making it easier for translators to enter the U.S., but many U.S. soldiers and civilians continue to push their efforts to do more, including hiring lawyers, raising money and allowing Iraqis to stay at their homes.

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