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'I call him brother': Broomfield veteran awaits arrival of his Afghan interpreter to Colorado

'I call him brother,' Broomfield veteran awaits arrival of his Afghan interpreter to Colorado
Posted at 11:00 PM, Sep 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-04 14:59:43-04

BROOMFIELD, Colo. — Months of worry, fear and anxiety have finally led a Broomfield veteran to a moment where he can breathe a sigh of relief.

"It's going to be one of the best moments of my life," said Scott Henkel, an Army veteran.

Over the past two months, Scott Henkel and his wife, Heidi Henkel, a Broomfield city councilwoman, worked extensively help the husband's Afghan interpreter flee Afghanistan.

In two weeks, the interpreter and his loved ones are expected to arrive in Broomfield.

"You can imagine the intensity in the last few weeks," Scott Henkel said.

The interpreter, Ahmad "Kevin" Siddiqi, worked alongside Scott Henkel from 2006 to 2007. Siddiqi speaks four languages fluently: Dari, Farsi, Pashto and English.

"Kevin was assigned to me as my interpreter because we were going to be doing a lot of missions outside of the wire. Kevin has gone on over 400 missions with me in dangerous territory," the Broomfield veteran said.

Ahmad "Kevin" Siddiqi and Scott Henkel in Afghanistan
Ahmad "Kevin" Siddiqi and Scott Henkel in Afghanistan

Siddiqi left Scott Henkel a Facebook message as the Taliban began to seize various cities in Afghanistan.

"Kevin left me a voicemail on Facebook. It was a very scared pleading of 'help me get out .. my visa is still being approved and my family is here,'" Scott Henkel said.

The Broomfield couple began to petition the help of state representatives and other leaders to help get Siddiqi's visa application approved.

All the while, Siddiqi and his family hid from the Taliban to make their exit.

"Him and his family walked through sewage canals to get through the extraction point," Heidi Henkel said.

Siddiqi, his wife and four children were able to make it to the Kabul airport. From there, they traveled to Qatar, then Italy and, finally, Fort Dix in New Jersey.

Currently, the Henkel family is making final arrangements for Kevin and his loved ones to arrive in Broomfield before the end of the month.

"He's excited to come to America. He's actually excited to hang out with Americans, spend time with us, meet our neighbors, have his kids go to school and make friends. He's really looking forward to resetting his life in Broomfield with us," Scott Henkel said.

Kevin's four children range in age from 1 to 9 years old. The oldest children speak both English and Farsi.

Ahmad "Kevin" Siddiqi and son
Ahmad "Kevin" Siddiqi and son in Italy.

"The oldest children also love pizza and are really excited to explore Colorado," Heidi Henkel said with a laugh.

Ahmad "Kevin" Siddiqi and family
Ahmad "Kevin" Siddiqi and family

This week, the oldest children sent video messages to the Henkel family, referring to Scott and Heidi as "aunt" and "uncle" while expressing their gratitude to the family.

"[I told my children] here, everybody is free. There is no worry of any type of war or any type of kidnapping or anything," Siddiqi said to Denver7 over a FaceTime call.

Kevin also expressed his gratitude to U.S. military forces he worked alongside.

"They were there to help, they were there to build a nation, to build a country. They feel like my family. I call them my brothers and sisters," Siddiqi said.

Heidi Henkel has been working with grassroots coalitions and faith-based congregations to provide resources for Siddiqi and his family.

"These are real people, these are real patriots. He bled with me, and we owe it to them and our country," Scott Henkel said.