October 18, 2021

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

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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