In 2003, fresh out of college with a double major in linguistics and computer science, Sohaib began working alongside his uncle at a US military base that was once a palace of Sadam Hussein. He began as an electrician but just 5 months later, he was recruited by the US military to become a translator with the First Calvary – Infantry.
For the next three years, Sohaib’s role as a translator with the US military put his family in constant danger. Every day, Sohaib and his uncle would drive together the 15 mins to and from the palace. Sohaib says, “Our line of work was very dangerous. All we carried with us was an identification card.”
One morning in 2006, Sohaib received a phone call that would change everything for his family… his uncle had been killed. Sohaib says, “The Al-Qaeda set up a trap and shot him in the back of the head. I immediately thought on that morning that now that they’ve come for my uncle, I’m next.”
Sohaib kept his job as a translator with the US military and after nearly a year, he was kidnapped by radical extremists. Over the next 24 hours, Sohaib’s captures interrogated him every 10 minutes about his involvement with the US military. “I just kept saying no, you have the wrong guy. I couldn’t stop thinking about my wife and kids… what will happen to them after I am shot and killed.”
Nearing the 24-hour mark since his capture, Sohaib’s family had was able to pay a ransom for his release. The family fled to Syria and in 2008, nearly a year after his capture, the US military had secured the relocation of Sohaib’s family’s to the United States and the family began settling into their new life in Louisville.
“Even though what happened to me was so tragic for my family, I loved working with the US military and I was anxious to begin working with them again,” says Sohaib. So, in 2009 and until 2017, Sohaib began travelling across the United States to different military bases and was a Culture Advisor. “I would teach classes on Iraqi culture, traditions and history. And then to better prepare the soldiers before they went overseas, I would participate in playing out real-life scenarios and act as a translator.”
In 2017, Sohaib ended his work with the US military, began a steady job in Louisville as a Car Mechanic and the family was finally ready to become homeowners. “Our kids were getting older and nearing high school, our youngest was starting kindergarten, I was back in Louisville full-time. We were finally on a steady path and wanted a stable home for our kids,” says Sohaib. “Ever since our time in Iraq, Huda and I have wanted to provide our three kids with a safe home to grow up in. Our lives have been filled with tragedy and stress. Becoming homeowners will finally give us peace of mind.”
In the fall of 2019, the house began its Raise the Roof event; an anonymous donor in honor of veterans is sponsoring the family’s home. At the home’s ground blessing ceremony, Sohaib said, “My wife and I are so thankful for the opportunity to give our children the safety and security that a home provides. The US military has now saved my family twice.”
“My kids are especially excited for the new house. In fact, a little too excited because they ask almost every day when we’ll be moving in,” Sohaib jokingly says. “We’re just very grateful for the opportunity to provide a better life for our children.” A better life that Sohaib proudly says may involve the US military. “My two oldest are interested in following in my footsteps. My son, Ali, is very interested in the Air Force and my daughter, Maryam, wants to be an engineer with the military. I am a very proud dad.”