Codeword: Tom Brady – Afghan American Army Veteran Said Noor and his 20-year mission to save his family from the Taliban
In today's episode, Ron Hirschberg talks with Said Noor, a proud Afghan American Army Veteran who first served for over eight years as an interpreter for the U.S. Army troops stationed near his village, before he was able to move to the U.S. on a special visa. A few years later, Said became a U.S. citizen, joined the U.S. Army, and redeployed back to the same area he had lived with his mom and eight siblings amidst many years of Taliban brutality, this time as a soldier. Said and Ron talk about Said's incredible story of service and his mission to fight the Taliban, his early years in Afghanistan, his time with the Army, and how in August 2021 he succeeded in his 20-year mission to keep his family safe. After months of advocacy, and with the help of MA Congressman Seth Moulton and in a small way football player Tom Brady, he was able to get his family on one of the last evacuation planes leaving Afghanistan, and safely to the U.S.
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Thank you Said Noor for your service, resilience and perseverance over 20 years to help your family and so many others with the common fight for humanity and peace.
Said joined us virtually from Houston in March 2022, seven months since his family safely left Kabul alongside the US military, following the suicide bombing attack killing 13 US servicemembers and injuring 100s of Afghans. Said takes us back to the time he first learned about the 9/11 attacks in the US. He was 11 years old, living with his mom and 8 siblings, all witnessing the Taliban beating his mom regularly, robbing her for money that was sent from dad who had been working in the UAE.
Said was fascinated with the US troops who soon became fixtures in the community, and although they appeared as if they were from another planet, they treated his family with immediate kindness – while the Taliban who spoke his same language were wreaking havoc all around him. For years Said and family would watch Stallone’s Rambo movies which would become his early lessons in the English language, and in 2007, Said officially became a translator for the US troops at age 17.
In 2014, Said left for the United States on special Visa, and in 2017 he became a US citizen. Before long he enlisted in the US Army and by 2018 was translating for the troops back in Afghanistan. Said was now a proud Afghan American serving our country, and in 2020 after being honorably discharged from the Army he returned as a US citizen to the same village he first saw those troops 20 years prior.
In 2021 Said had a new mission, to bring his whole family to the US – Not an easy task, even as a US Citizen and Army Veteran. His plea made it to Massachusetts Congressman Seth Moulton’s desk, and along with creative planning by staff member Neesha Suarez, made the mission a reality – On August 27th, Said’s family was instructed to enter the gates of the Kabul airport, get to a gas station and connect with a Marine to give the straight-out-of-Boston code word, “Tom Brady.”
A household name like Tom Brady to us New Englanders may not have meant anything to Said’s family at the time, but it’s now unforgettable for them all. The Buccaneers brought Said and fellow comrade and Patriots fan Steve Morse to Tampa for a game, and Mr. Brady sent a personal message thanking US Army Veteran Said Noor for his service to our country.
Said brings us deeper into his story of a kid that just wants his family to survive and thrive, and how in these times as we look to Ukraine, human suffering should never exist no matter what. Said is proud of the Afghan people, and of the US citizen and veteran he has become, and it’s really an honor to bring this conversation to you.
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The Home Base Nation Team is Steve Monaco, Maureen Roderick, Laurie Gallagher, Karianne Kraus, Lucy Little, Taylor Orlando, with COO Michael Allard, Brigadier General Jack Hammond, and Peter Smyth.
Producer and Host: Dr. Ron Hirschberg
Producer, Sound, Editor: Lucy Little
Chairman, Home Base Media Lab: Peter Smyth
Home Base Nation is the official podcast of Home Base Program for Veterans and Military Families, a partnership of the Massachusetts General Hospital and the Red Sox Foundation. To learn more and connect with us at Home Base Nation: www.homebase.org/homebasenation. To Donate to Home Base where every dollar goes to the care of veterans and military families that is cost to them, go to: www.homebase.org/donate.
The views expressed by guests to the Home Base Nation podcast are their own and their appearance on the program does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. Views and opinions expressed by guests are those of the guests and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Massachusetts General Hospital, Home Base, the Red Sox Foundation or any of its officials.