German air force officer helps evacuees using personal insight

German air force Lt. Col. Nader Samadi, NATO Allied Air Command deputy commander of the air liaison element, stands at the entrance to the flight line at Ramstein Air Base, Sept. 10. Samadi, an Iran-native who fled his country as a child, uses his ability to communicate with the evacuees to provide them with any help he can offer. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Jared Lovett)

A German service member assigned to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is supporting the humanitarian evacuation from Afghanistan in a way that few can.

German air force Lt. Col. Nader Samadi, NATO Allied Air Command deputy commander of the air liaison element — fluent in English, German and Farsi — uses his language skills to aid in communication between the evacuees, U.S. Air Force Airmen and German forces.

“He’s made a huge impact going into the pods and building rapport with the evacuees,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Jonathan Montgomery, 86th Comptroller Squadron deputy pod one boss. “It gives evacuees a person to speak to and know we’re here to help them. Translators help us by being able to communicate what we’re doing and when they’re expected to leave.”

German air force Lt. Col. Nader Samadi, NATO Allied Air Command deputy commander of the air liaison element, gives toys to evacuees at Ramstein Air Base, Sept. 9. Samadi, an Iran native who fled his country as a child, uses his personal experience and fluency in Farsi to offer hope and mentorship to evacuees. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Jared Lovett)

While inside the transient lodging areas, Samadi talks with the evacuees to ensure all of their needs are met.

“They feel more comfortable talking to a person that is actually speaking their language,” Samadi said. “It helps a lot to understand how they feel, what their needs are and how we can help, it gives them hope. It’s not just me, it’s also all of the interpreters that are working for both the U.S. and the German forces.”

As an Iran-native himself who fled his home country at a young age, Samadi relates to the evacuees on a personal level.

“Knowing where I came from and knowing what I saw from 1979 to 1985 during the Iran revolution, I can relate to the people here because they probably have gone through worse things,” Samadi said. “I know that they want to get out and start anew and now they have the chance. We’re here to help them in the process.”

Samadi and his team of approximately 200 German service members have helped support Ramstein’s Afghanistan evacuation efforts, from building pods to caring for the evacuees.

“We’ve all been in Afghanistan for 20 years, the mission is over, but has to end in a good way, which is us helping these people start a new life,” Samadi said.

Through his own experiences, Samadi uses his knowledge of transitioning to a different country and adapting to a new way of life to relate to the evacuees in order to give hope.

“They need to be strong, that’s what I tell them,” Samadi said. “Get your education and start up your life, leave the past behind. That’s what my family and I did.”

Samadi reminds evacuees that there’s always hope and encourages them to believe in themselves and work hard to get where they want in life.