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Moving Memoir Helped Bring An Iraqi Family To Safety

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Photo by Jill Replogle

Blake Hall looks at a montage of photos of Roy, his fallen Iraqi translator. Roy served as Hall's translator for nine months during combat.

This week I was lucky enough to cover the moving story of an Iraq war veteran and his quest to secure safe passage to the U.S. for the family of his fallen Iraqi interpreter.

But honestly, much more moving than my radio piece about the family’s arrival in San Diego is the memoir retired U.S. Army Captain Blake Hall published in the Washington Post in August 2010.

Tears welled up in my eyes as I read Hall’s memories of his interpreter, Roy; the boy’s bravery and sense of humor. I thought to myself, “how did this guy (Hall) learn to write like that?”

So I asked him when I met him in San Diego this week. Turns out he took a writing course through Grub Street and got inspired by another memoir he read.

But he obviously has natural talent (he told me his preschool teacher said he’d be a writer).

In a clear example of the power of the written word, Hall got a flood of positive responses to his story. One, in particular, helped him find Roy’s mom and led to the family’s safe landing in San Diego this week.

Read Hall’s story in the Post, and follow it up with his Op-Ed published in the Post in January. That one helped speed up refugee processing for the family, which had been stalled in the bureaucracy of security checks.