MORRISON, Colo. (KDVR) — While the conflict in Afghanistan is happening on the other side of the world, it hits very close to home for some Coloradans.
“There are a lot of really good things. But there is an awful lot of brutality. And it scares the hell out of me,” retired Colorado geologist Robert Miller told FOX31.
Miller used to be the head engineer at Chevron and was later asked to come out of retirement to help the U.S. Department of Defense lead a team of technical experts in discovering and developing natural resource projects in Afghanistan. Miller said the goal was to help Afghans create a mining industry, jobs and economic growth.
“The Afghans turned out to be really good partners. They remind me of crusty old miners here in the United States, so people I’ve known all my life,” he said.
‘You don’t know if he’s going to be on the other end of the line or not
That work led to Miller becoming associates with an Afghan man named Farad. Throughout several years working side-by-side from 2009 to 2019, the two became close friends.
“He was good people. He is good people,” Miller said.
Miller said even though they now live on opposite sides of the globe, he and Farad still talk almost daily. Lately though, he said the conversations have become more harrowing as the Taliban seizes control of the country.
“Every day you wake up and you don’t know if he’s going to be on the other end of the line or not,” Miller said.
According to Miller, Farad’s home in the Kunar Valley was burned down. His family has since traveled more than 300 miles to Kabul. All 18 of them, including children as young as two, are now attempting to get into the airport and flee Afghanistan.
“He’s been to the gate and turned back by the Taliban every day this week,” Miller said.
‘If America is half the country I want it to be, we’ll help them’
Miller said Farad and his family have the correct documents and passports but are being denied access to the airport at Taliban checkpoints simply because they are Afghans.
“So today we got up and we emailed him just to ask if he was still safe,” Miller said. “And he said we were at the gate. And he saw the bomb go off.”
Farad and his family were far enough away that they were uninjured in the deadly explosion. However, Farad took photos of others who were hurt being carried away in wheelbarrows.
It is unclear where Farad and his family are seeking shelter or if they will be able to leave Afghanistan.
“And they’re just scared stiff. They don’t know what to do,” Miller said. “These are good human beings that have been handed a s—t sandwich, and if America is half the country I want it to be, we’ll help them.”