In our January 2022 newsletter, we told you about a DC area couple and their church’s mission to help Marvi, a newly arrived Afghan refugee. Steve and Cindy Fogleman and their congregation are committed to addressing the plight of local Afghans who arrived in the DC area in 2021 - their lack of homes, jobs, and general support. These people helped American servicemembers fight the war on terror; in an act of compassion, service, and plain old love, the Foglemans and their church are still returning the favor.

Only a few months earlier, the Afghanistan government had fallen to the Taliban after a swift US withdrawal, and Marvi and thousands of others found themselves in dire circumstances as Taliban retribution posed an imminent threat. Prior to 2001, the Taliban regime had not only provided terrorists a home, they had subjected the Afghan people to a wide range of indignities and injustices, from the ridiculous to the horrendous. No flying of kites. No dancing. And punishable by disfigurement, no girls or women in classrooms receiving the life-changing benefits of education.

As American women and men pursued terrorists in the valleys and mountains of Afghanistan, a secondary engagement ensued in the farms, classrooms, and minds of the Afghan people - the influence of new ideas. The seeds of dignity, decency, and liberty were planted in the rocky Afghan terrain. Seeds antithetical to everything the Taliban stood for. The attitudes and minds of many of the Afghan people, particularly its women, were ready soil for these liberating concepts.

As each successive C-17 left Kabul, full of the previously and potentially oppressed, fate grew darker for those left behind, the enlightened notions of liberty burdened by the specter of Taliban rule. Many veterans expressed dismay that more could not be done. General James Mattis once encouraged his fighting men and women to “Demonstrate to the world that there is 'No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy’ than a US Marine.” American fighting was finished in the Afghanistan War, but the impact of American friendship was not. Among those who made it out, Marvi and her countrymen were now safe, but still strangers in a strange land, without homes, jobs, and all their loved ones, and in need of more help. And more friends.

Enter Steve and Cindy Fogleman and their fellow believers. On Christmas Eve, 2021, Steve called me with season's greetings and his mission: “Marvi used to work in the travel industry. She has a college degree and knows four languages. Do you know anyone who could help her get a good job?” I immediately thought of Stan Little, CEO of Southern Airways.* The month before he had generously provided charter air services to fly a small contingent of 9:57 Project Veteran volunteers and students to the Flight 93 Memorial on Veterans Day to walk the honored ground and meet David and Peggy Beamer, parents of Flight 93 passenger Todd Beamer. Maybe Stan had an open position at nearby Dulles airport?

I texted Stan, and he instantly replied “I’d love to help with this....” followed by detailed instructions about where to send Marvi’s resume on the next business day. Facilitating a hopeful connection on Christmas Eve was a highlight of that holiday season.

How is Marvi a year later? Well, she didn’t take a job at Southern. She found a better offer, something Stan later said he could appreciate as a “very American thing to do.” The offer still not suitable for the long term, Marvi eventually secured a permanent job with the city of Alexandria. She struggled mightily in finding that position and a permanent home. For months, Marvi, her son, and her sister lived in a churchgoer’s basement. Lutheran Social Services later assisted the three in finding what Cindy calls a “lovely apartment.”

Marvi is pictured above visiting with Cindy just a few days ago, as the Foglemans hosted members of the Afghan community in their home. Many of Marvi’s other countrymen are still struggling to find suitable employment in the aftermath of the war. Despite their geographic safe harbor from oppression, even in hope, difficult memories abound. Marvi’s brother-in-law died at the hands of the Taliban. Her sister and so many others must contend with the pain of the past and an uncertain future. Steve and Cindy and their church, in providing an update on Marvi, remain relentless in seeking more help for members of the Afghan community. The fighting is over, but these people of faith remain as faithful a friend to these folks as any US Marine could ever dare to be. Please reach out to if you know of any opportunities to help these Afghans who helped America fight the War on Terror. We’ll pass them along.

And speaking of faithful friends, the help that the Foglemans and Stan Little have offered to worthy endeavors is not limited to Marvi's plight. They have been tremendous contributors to The 9:57 Project by providing financial or in-kind support to transport students and veterans to the National Flight 93 Memorial in Pennsylvania. We are thankful for their assistance. We cannot do our mission without the help of so many like them who believe that our effort to engage in conversations about courage, resilience, service, and teamwork is transformative. America’s veterans may be done fighting, but we are just starting to serve young people in other ways. We believe there is NO BETTER FRIEND than a 9:57 Project Veteran to our Nation’s future leaders.

*the air traffic control (ATC) callsign of Southern Airways is “FRIENDLY”