An American veteran of the Iraq war is trying to bring an Iraqi soldier who saved his life to safety in the United States, but bureaucratic red tape is preventing him from doing so.
According to former U.S. Marine Chase Millsap, he was on a routine patrol with his unit and several Iraqi soldiers, including the man he publicly refers to as the "Captain" for safety reasons, when they came under sniper attack.
"The Captain pushed me down and ran towards the sniper who was undoubtedly preparing for a second shot," Millsap, 33, wrote in National Geographic. "His instinct to rush at the enemy saved us. I remember looking at my savior afterwards while we were sharing one of his cheap French cigarettes. He smiled at me. We laughed. Without words, we had gained an uncommon respect for one another."
The two reportedly fought together for several months, and, according to Millsap, the Captain proved to be an invaluable asset to the U.S. military because of his fighting and translation skills. But a friendship also formed.
"In our down time, we smoked cigarettes and chatted," Millsap wrote. "He told me about his family and divorces. We spoke of religion and faith. He admitted how he wanted to find love, raise children, be happy. He was tired of war. Over time, we became more than friends. We grew to be brothers. I left Iraq wondering if I would ever see my brother again. Before I stepped aboard the helicopter to take me back to the states, he told me, 'Go home. Take care of your family.'"
Their lives then took very different paths. Millsap returned to the United States and went to graduate school at the University of Southern California.
The Captain got married and became a father. He continued fighting in Iraq and was in a vehicle that got hit by a roadside bomb. It left him with a traumatic brain injury that took months to recover from.
"I wept when he sent me a picture of his mangled vehicle," Millsap wrote. "I was amazed that he was still alive and consumed with guilt that I was not there to help him."
The Captain vowed to continue fighting. But it wasn't until 2014, when ISIS began taking over swaths of Iraq and started threatening the Captain and his family, that he decided to try to move to the U.S.
"If I go back, I'm sure I die," the Captain, now 37, told the Associated Press.
Millsap is set to testify in Congress on May 24 to advocate streamlining the process to grant refugee status to foreign soldiers who fight alongside the American military.
"I'm not advocating that everyone needs to come here but I definitely think that we should be helping to protect these people," Millsap told ABC News. "Because in a lot of ways they are our first line of defense. He could go into a room of Iraqis and say, 'Chase is a good guy, we can trust him.'"