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‘He kept me alive’: Retired Marine raising money to help interpreter, Afghan family

<i>KETV</i><br/>With flags and his backpack
With flags and his backpack

By Abbie Petersen

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    OMAHA, Nebraska (KETV) — When retired U.S. Marine Corps Officer Robert Koenig saw the fall of Afghanistan, his mind went right to his former interpreter and what he could do to help the man who helped him for so long.

That’s when he came up with Ruck for Refugees.

With flags and his backpack, Robert Koenig made the 145-mile journey from Omaha to Hartington Nebraska.

The purpose is what kept him going.

“I kind of started thinking about like well how far did they have to go to get from their homes to Kabul airport to get to safety and it was 100, roughly 140 miles so that was the number that I, that was the number that I picked,” Koenig said.

It’s called “Ruck for Refugees” and it’s just one way the retired marine corps officer is raising money to help 33 family members of an interpreter who helped him in Afghanistan.

“You know, he kept me alive. He gave him the successes that we had while I was there and my fellow officers who were out there were doing it to a large part of the job that he did with us,” Koenig said.

He’s talking about Deputy Mubarak.

He moved to Florida in 2009 but his family stayed in Afghanistan.

Until this August when they had to leave.

“The Taliban was already rolling through the countryside and looking for people like his family who had had family members that work for the Americans, specifically combat interpreters who had been out on operation,” Koenig said.

Mubarak’s loved ones are now in Texas going through the immigration process to move to Florida, but they’ll need a place to stay.

That’s why Koenig is trying to raise $250,000 for a down payment on a housing unit to keep them all together.

He knows it’s a lot of money but says he made a promise to help, and he’s determined to keep it.

“It was not it was never even a consideration of like, you know, the why, it was just the how, like, this has to happen,” Koenig said.

Kros Strain Brewing will be donating a portion of its sales this Tuesday-Thursday to Ruck for Refugees.

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