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Lt. Col., Camp Atterbury interpreter reunite after first meeting in Afghanistan

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Posted at 10:23 PM, Nov 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-23 22:23:48-05

EDINBURGH — “Heart of gold” -- It was one phrase many used throughout the briefing on Operations Allies Welcome Tuesday afternoon at Camp Atterbury.

Evacuees and officials alike agree it is the sense of community on base and outside the gates making that phrase a reality.

“It really is a small world,” Lt. Colonel Chuck Wimp said. He is the Joint Visitors Bureau Director for Camp Atterbury for Operation Allies Welcome.

Moments before Tuesday’s briefing started, he reunited with a young man he first met back in Afghanistan.

“It was amazing. I came here and I saw him like, ‘Oh, I kind of knew you,” Interpreter Aijazullah “AJ” Tareen said. “I tell him like have you been to Afghanistan? He said yes. Then I opened my mask and then yep, we knew each other."

The two have not seen each other since 2017 when Wimp left until Tuesday inside the Welcome Center at Camp Atterbury.

“It really is a small world. I mean, the proof is right here. I mean, literally across the world years ago and we run into each other in Edinburg, Indiana,” Wimp said.

“We were together in 2017 in one of the Southeastern provinces of Afghanistan,” Tareen said.

Starting in 2013, Tareen worked as an interpreter in Afghanistan. He worked with Wimp who was deployed with the Indiana National Guard as a combat advisor.

“This guy [Tareen] was one of the absolute best linguist interpreters that we had and helped us do everything that we needed to do to be able to communicate effectively,” Wimp said.

In 2018, Tareen moved to the United States and is now helping Afghan evacuees at Camp Atterbury.

The two exchanged numbers and plan on staying in touch.