Soldier reunited with Afghan interpreter who saved his life

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Janis Shinwari and Matthew Zeller.

ROCHESTER, NY - Pinned down by 40 Taliban insurgents, Matthew Zeller's unit needed help.

Their vehicles had already been devastated by an improvised explosive device and rocket-propelled grenades, and the small group of soldiers that remained were outnumbered four-to-one by insurgents.

As grenades continued to rain down on the unit, two Taliban fighters tried to flank Zeller's position, and began sneaking up behind him for the kill.

Janis Shinwari got there first.

Shinwari, an Afghan interpreter who was working with the U.S. military in Afghanistan, ran up from the rear, shooting and killing the two insurgents before helping Zeller retreat to a safe zone. With other reinforcements also arriving, the unit escaped total devastation.

Ever since that April 2008 firefight, Zeller has told anyone willing to listen about how Shinwari had saved his life. And for the past five years, he's been worried that the man who rescued him would fall victim to a violent Taliban retaliation.

Read more of this article from the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle here.


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