Mission accomplished: Tucson veterans welcome Afghan soldier they helped save from the Taliban

Mission accomplished: Tucson veterans welcome Afghan soldier they helped save from the Taliban
Published: Jan. 8, 2022 at 12:20 AM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - A story we have been following has come full circle. Tony Short and Hazem Amiry, who once fought together in Afghanistan, were reunited on American soil Friday night.

Amiry was welcomed by Southern Arizona veterans and their families at the Tucson International Airport. The crowd cheered and waved signs as he descended the escalator. Amiry then shook hands with Short, and the two embraced for the first time in seven years.

“I don’t know how to explain when I saw him,” said Amiry. “I am so happy.”

For Operation 22 Restore Hope, it was mission accomplished!

“It’s long overdue,” Short said.

Short served in the U.S. Air Force for 22 years. In 2014, he was deployed to Afghanistan where he met Amiry.

“The 29th of January of 2015, we had an insider attack,” said Short. “Had it not been for him and the relationship we actually built and our communication between each other, I would say it would have unfortunately gone a lot worse.”

So, when Kabul fell and Short had the chance to return the favor, he did. With help from Operation 22, a nonprofit that supports military veterans and first responders suffering from PTSD, Short was able to bring Amiry to the Old Pueblo.

“We actually removed about 15 Taliban in what we considered insider threats. So, yes, I believe the Taliban would have been looking for him,” Short said.

Amiry, his wife and their five children; ranging from 10 months to 16 years old, will make Tucson their new home.

“This is like leaving your entire life behind,” said Short. “And you are showing up with nothing but the clothes on your back.”

An Air Force widow recently donated her husband’s car to the family, and Automotive Diesel and Performance is providing free labor to fix it up. Operation 22 is also collecting household items and monetary donations to help them get on their feet.

“Gives me chills to just know that he will take the oath of an American citizen no different than we take the oath to be a military member and to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America,” said Mark Lacy, who founded Southern Arizona Musicians for Healing and Operation 22. “He is going to be us; he will bleed red, white and blue. He will always have ties back to his homeland, but he will be a U.S. citizen and so will his family. I just hope the Tucson community will embrace him and his family no different than they have embraced others.”

Amiry’s family will join him as soon as he secures housing. He hasn’t seen them in five months. To help the Amiry family, click HERE.

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