Just a year after the harrowing pictures of Afghanistan refugees chasing a plane down the runaway at the Kabul airport, a former Afghan fighter pilot has taken flight in America, helping to fight fires in Montana, Idaho, and California.
Samimullah Samim, whose last mission in the mountains of Afghanistan was rescuing wounded soldiers as the country was falling back under Taliban rule, is now flying firefighting missions in the mountains of America.
"Unfortunately, there are a lot of fires in California these days, and we are super busy," Samim told The Wall Street Journal. "The people of the company are super hardworking, and I love working with them."
There have been nearly 80,000 resettled Afghanistan refugees in the U.S. in the past year, including a reported 41,000 of working age, according to the International Rescue Committee (IRC).
An IRC poll of 1,800 Afghans found resettled workers are making an average of $16.50 an hour in manufacturing, retail, and food services.
"That first job is the way that they improve their English," said Tent Partnership for Refugees Executive Director Gideon Maltz. "It's the way they get exposed to American culture. And so, it's hugely important for us. We see that as a starting point."
Amazon, Walmart, and Uber are among the top employers of those resettled.
Bridger Aerospace, Samim's employer, is an aerial firefighting company in Bozeman, Montana, that was started by former U.S. Navy SEAL Tim Sheehy, who was wounded in Afghanistan.
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