“That was the flag we fought under along with our Afghan counterparts,” Koenig said, “So that still means a lot to me, and the things they did for us to keep us safe on operations.”
OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Bob Koenig finished his Marine Corps service in 2005, but when it comes to those he served with, he never forgets. So when refugees began pouring out of Afghanistan, he immediately began thinking about his interpreter and friend, Mubarek.
“I got the opportunity to do some special deployments as a Marine Corps intelligence officer,” Koenig said. “He was literally the first Afghan I met getting off the plane.”
This Saturday, Koenig will walk roughly the same distance Mubarek’s family traveled to flee the Taliban this summer, 140 miles. Ruck for Refugees is part of his effort to raise awareness for families looking for a place to live in their new country, including the 33 refugees in Mubarek’s immediate family who are now looking to start a new home in Florida.
Mubarek immigrated to America several years ago and is currently working in the Sarasota (Fla.) County Sheriff’s Department. Koenig, who is a real estate developer in Elkhorn, realized he might be able to use some of his experience to come up with a plan to help. And while they are still looking for a property, Koenig believes with a GoFundMe effort they can eventually acquire a property that will allow Mubarek’s extended family to stay in one place as they begin a new life.
“We’re figuring this out as we go and it’s exactly what they had to do leaving their hometown. You didn’t have time to figure it all out. They literally had to get on the road that day and get out because the Taliban was literally coming down the road at ‘em.”
Koenig expects his walk from Elkhorn to Hartington to take about a week. He plans to carry all the essentials so he can camp and walk safely, adding he plans to bring a few mementos on his journey, including a letter Mubarek gave him, challenge coins, an Afghan hat and two flags, one U.S. flag, and one from the former Republic of Afghanistan.
“That was the flag we fought under along with our Afghan counterparts,” Koenig said. So that still means a lot to me, and the things they did for us to keep us safe on operations.”
A website for ruckforrefugees.com isn’t yet active, but you can keep up with the effort and support the cause by visiting the GoFundMe page found here.