La Quinta man who served in Afghanistan seeks Ruiz’s help for colleague fleeing Taliban
La Quinta resident James Bailey spent 5 years in Afghanistan protecting American diplomats for the U.S. Department of State from 2009 to 2014.
Speaking exclusively to News Channel 3's Jake Ingrassia, he said Thursday's deadly ISIS suicide bombing at the Kabul airport that killed 13 Marines was a preventable tragedy.
"I'm still trying to process everything that’s happened," Bailey said. "It's been a crazy, crazy week for me. I think it's been a crazy week for our country.”
Bailey is now back home in Southern California, but earlier this week he heard from his former translator and colleague who is still in Afghanistan. Bailey didn't want to show his face or use his name – he said the man is fleeing Taliban forces.
"He's got his wife and his kids with him – but now he's homeless and he's broke, and he doesn't have blankets, and he doesn't have clothes," Bailey said. “He goes, 'I put my wife somewhere in hiding.' He goes, 'I know when they find me, they're going to kill me.”
Looking for help, Bailey got in touch with Congressman Ruiz's office.
"We need to help our service members and Americans and allies evacuate safely and that's what my office is doing," Ruiz said Thursday in an interview with News Channel 3.
In a statement, Ruiz wrote, “During this crucial time, my office has been in contact with Mr. Bailey and his former interpreter, and we submitted our congressional inquiry to the U.S. Department of State. The Department of State will contact the interpreter and proceed accordingly, and my office remains available to provide assistance throughout this process.”
It's help Bailey said can't come soon enough. "I know that if we reach to the right people, that [Ruiz is] going to be able to get this accomplished," he said.
Bailey added reports from on the ground say there are hundreds of others families experiencing the same situation as his friend. He said only elected officials and the state department can provide the help they need.