Yousef’s family was looking forward to a month filled with family events when their four children and wife boarded a July 15 flight to San Diego to attend the wedding of her brother in Afghanistan. They had been waiting for this moment, but the coronavirus epidemic prevented them from travelling earlier.

Their return ticket arrived Aug. 15, just two days before their children began school in El Cajon, a San Diego suburb.

But the Afghan-American family found themselves dodging gunfire and trying to force their way into the crowds of thousands ringing the airport in Kabul after Afghanistan’s government collapsed and the Taliban seized power.

The wife and children of Yousef were among eight El Cajon families who became trapped following the U.S. The troops ran to rescue Americans and their allies, and then fled the country. Because he has relatives in Afghanistan, Yousef requested that his first name not be used.

With the support of Republican Rep. Darrell Issa and the Cajon Valley Union Schools District, all but one family were able to get out. Their district also includes El Cajon which is home to a large refugee population. Families had traveled alone over the summer to visit relatives, and they were not part in an organized trip.

Issa and school officials accompanied several families to talk with reporters on Thursday, recounting their terrible experience.

Parents described their children running as gunfire whizzed overhead. One father claimed he was beat by the Taliban. They claimed they were stopped at Taliban checkpoints.

They said they are grateful to be back but their children have suffered nightmares, and they worry about the family that was unable to get out, along with countless others still stuck there, including distant relatives.

Yousef stated, “My children are now safe at their home thanks to God and all your help,”

He asked everyone to remember about the many other Americans, green card holders, and Afghans that are at risk of aiding the American government. He had in his hands a folder containing the documents of 30 individuals who were eligible for special immigrant visas and should be in the United States, but are currently in Afghanistan trying to flee.