- My friend, Fisher (the Interpreter) at the Sugar Shack … (obviously edited to protect his identity)
Last December I wrote a blog about a man named Sam Fisher titled “a case of mistaken identity”. Since that point in time, I have gotten to know Fisher or “Fish” as he used to be called by his (war buddies/Army friends/American friends…) much better through instant messaging and Facebook, and have felt compelled to re-share his story, and give you an update. You see, it was not until after the original post, that Fish and I realized how we even got to find out how we were originally connected. In 2007 I supported SPC Jonathan Pacheco in the 2/7 Army out of Ft. Hood, Texas, unit known as “Ghost Battalion”. My connection to Jonathan came about because of a random soldier in an airport, telling me his best friend never got mail and he asked me if I would “adopt” him. Honestly, it seems like I have known Jonathan my entire life now, and we became so close through his deployments and “in between” that he is like a son to me. (you can see a video about Jonathan here: watch?v=ULGFwHH4Rs0 )
But the funniest thing is; this story isn’t meant to be about Jonathan. He is just beginning of this particular story. I mean, a stranger asked me to adopt him and I have done so since that day I met Desmond in the airport. But then I found out through a “case of mistaken identity” that not only the members of the Ghost Battalion were touched by my care packages. There was an Iraqi who was imbedded with the unit as an interpreter (known as a TERP). Fisher to this day, continues to tell me about the days at the ‘sugar shack” and how they would fight over the contents of my care packages. How they would wait with anticipation of what would come in the next box. Over the past year, Fish has brought me to tears more than once, by retelling a story of how I changed the lives of the people in that unit and his own family. In chatting with him online today, I was moved to re-share HIS STORY … and my original post. Please be patient enough to read the entire story … for me, for our troops, and for a man who had enough courage to leave his family, friends, and everything he knew … so he could help the US Army to bring freedom to his own country.
~~~ Original post December 2011 ~~~
As you all know, I have been “adopting” service members since September 11, 2001. This has included supporting them through their deployments, helping family members cope with the absence of their loved ones, and being a support system to each of them (if need be) when they return. In the past 10 years I have supported 100 troops, this past year being a bit more of a challenge because of my own circumstances. Last week I was communicating with a “soldier” in Iraq, asking him if he would be coming home soon. Early in the conversation, I was corrected with my mistake and was told an amazing story. My friend gave me permission to share it with you … because I believe this is a story the entire world should read & know. It will dispel any of the naysayers who believe we never should have invaded Iraq. And it makes me so very proud of my friend, Fisher and our troops. Please feel free comment on this post, I know he and many of our troops will be reading your thoughts … and remember, we each can make a difference … one person, one breath, one smile, and one life at a time.
“The Sky Angel”
Ohh I`m sorry Robin! You must have confused me with some other friend of yours!!! But I don`t blame you my friend, because I have never had the chance to introduce myself to you properly!
I want to tell you my story instead of just telling you what my name is, and I`ll try to be as brief as possible… My name is Fisher … or that is the name I decided to be called, when I was asked to choose an American name by Staff Seargant Monley when I got a job with the U.S Army. I cannot tell you my real name because it would put me and my family in danger, so you can call me “Fish”, lol. Its funny because if I would not have met that soldier in 2003 there wouldn’t be a story to be told, and you would never know about me. They say every thing happens for a reason. Maybe the reason why I met that soldier, is to have a story and then tell it to you. And maybe the reason why I`m writing my story to you right now, is so you can tell it to others! I was 23 years old when I quit college and decided to make my country of Iraq a better place, After it was ruined by insurgents, when I decided to join the American Forces to help fight those who wished to destroy what has left of my home, and make harm to my people. Now I know you might be thinking … I could have just joined the Iraqi Army to do that! but then again… if I would have you definitely would not be reading this story you are reading right now! I am certain I would have been killed.
I grew up in a house where I was taught that there is no difference whatsoever between human beings, no matter what their sex or religion might be. After operation Iraq Freedom in 2003 had occurred, I was 17 years old when I met the first American soldier in a friendly football game between local Iraqi’s and young American soldiers. It was funny how me and that soldier could communicate with each other but none of us could speak each other`s language! That poorly interactive conversation between us gave me the urge to learn to speak English. Now as hard as I tried… I can`t remember his name. Isn’t it funny how people we remember the least (thinking of them but not knowing their names) make the greatest impression on us? So after that football game, I found myself reading Grammar books, and other books of self teaching English. I told myself “the next American Soldier I met again will tell me his stories and I`ll be able to understand!”
I kept studying and studying until without knowing I realized I was the best student in English subject in my school. Although that wasn’t my intention, but because of that, I got accepted in English department in my college later on. In 2007 insurgency was at its peak, and the insurgents killed every one who they suspected to work, or just spoke with the Americans. They were destroying my town, the place where I grew up in, my home … and they were killing a lot of people every day. Including old people, women and children, and also many Americans. I felt like I had to do something while I could. I felt that I wasn’t born to sit here and do nothing and watch Iraq tear itself apart, there was a war against terror going on and I wanted to be part of that war.
I knew English, and it was about choosing sides and I had already chosen mine… I wanted to be with the good guys and the good guys happened to be Americans. They happened to be the strongest also. So I thought of quitting college and joining the U.S troops, I wanted to help make Iraq a good place again, I wanted to make an ending to this nightmare! So I did leave my college, friends and family and went to work with the U.S Army, I was attached to the infantry. I spent two years working with them, two years with two different units, one year with each unit. when the first one left, I was recommended by them to work with the new one that had just arrived. At the beginning, my first days were full of awkwardness, I thought … me being the only Iraqi kid with a bunch of American soldiers in one tent, and being from a different background with much concern with the cultural differences … this might have been a bad decision! BUT the way they let me blend in and kept on hooking me up made me believe that I was no longer a stranger, but a part of one team! They shared care packages with me from people “back home”.
It was our lives on the line, but we didn’t care and we always made fun of it all the time. We used to say… “we could die together in one mortar round if the insurgents get lucky, and that round landed on our tent! or WE can get lucky and that round could land somewhere else so we can live another day and eat another MRE!!!” After two years of being away from my friends and family, and I made a lot of American friends. Iraq kept on getting better and better, and the insurgency faded away eventually as Iraq stood up on its feet. I was recommended by my Team Leader Cpt. Briten to move and live in the states if Iraq stayed a hostile environment for people like me. I have been working on my paper work to do that, but now that Iraq is fine (thanks to the U.S troops ) I can choose whether to stay here with my friends and family, or to finish college and travel to join my brothers in arms again, but this time it`ll be on the land of freedom, and not on a battlefield.
I quit right after my second team went back home, I went back to college. I learned a lot from my American friends and so did they from me. We shared some good and bad times that I will never forget as long as I live. I hope I didn’t bother you with this story of mine, but the only reason why I wrote it to you so that you can know about those who where influenced, and had their lives transformed by American soldiers, like myself. and tell a story of a TERP who you have never met face to face, but maybe one day will.
Your friend, Fisher.