August 9, 2022

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Ranger’s ‘Digital Dunkirk’ rescue of stranded interpreters in Afghanistan

Former U.S. Army Ranger Sayre Payne, pictured Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, at his home in suburban Cincinnati, along with former colleagues still with contacts in Afghanistan, is working to help interpreters and other allies of the United States obtain special immigrant visas to leave Afghanistan following the military withdrawal of U.S. forces from the country last month.

Aug. 16: The text message from his former Afghan interpreter, a man he considers a brother, popped up on Sayre Payne’s smartphone at 2:43 p.m. ET, the day after Kabul, Afghanistan, fell to the Taliban.

“I am about to die please help.”

Seven thousand miles away, Payne, a former ranger with the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division, replied with a text. 

“My spirit is with you right now. I cannot help you with my body. Only my soul.”

For more than a month, the former Clarksville resident has been holed up in his dimly lit home office in the Cincinnati area, working as many as 20 hours a day to rescue stranded interpreters as the U.S. military hastily exited Afghanistan.

Evacuation imagery:Kabul airlift, visualized: In 16 days, massive planes moved enough evacuees to fill a small city

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