SAN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU) - A San Jose man has quite a story to tell about how he just recently came to call Silicon Valley home.
"It was bad, so you can see from here to here..."
Sher Haidari is talking about the scars on his right arm. The former translator for the U.S. Military in Iraq says the scars are the visible remembrances of an IED attack in Afghanistan.
Haidari is considered a hero by the U.S. Military for risking everything to save the lives of American soldiers.
"Because I was a little guy they called me ‘Little Mikey’ all the time," said Haidari.
He went by the alias "Mikey" to protect his true identity.
At the age of 17, Haidari started working for the U.S. Army as a translator in Afghanistan. For five years, starting in 2007, he was the eyes and ears of the U.S. Military in the war zone.
"It's a feeling of scared..feeling of...like you know, you feel you're going to die any second," said Haidari.
The now 26-year-old has dozens of recommendation letters from an Army General to several Captains.
In one letter of recommendation, Army Captain Tyler Rund wrote:
"Mikey distinguished himself, running through the middle of the gunfight to give ammunition to one of my vehicles that had run out. Had he been an American soldier, it was the kind of valor that we give medals for."
Haidari speaks 4 languages and recalled one especially harrowing translation he made in the Paktika province of Afghanistan in 2009 where both his and American soldiers lives were on the line after he heard the enemy say this:
"Saying 'Let all of them go through. We're going to shoot them from behind so they don't fight us face to face so we can kill at least a couple of them or all of them," said Haidari. “I told my PO, I was like, ‘Listen man, we're about to get killed right now--right over here…they're tracking us right now. Right away he turned his face and told all the guys to get on the ground. The minute we get on the ground, the firefight start."
The government gave Haidari a special immigrant visa to live in the United States. Just this month, he moved to the Bay Area into a San Jose apartment with his wife and 9-month old son.
"I was like you know there's a big opportunity to go to United States of America," said Haidari.
His first accomplishment here was passing his driver's test and getting a license. Some friends started an online fundraiser to help Sher and his wife buy a used car and pay for a few months rent and raised almost $5,000 in 2 weeks.
While his wife, Tamana Amiri, misses home, the young mother through a translator says living here comes with a welcome and dramatically different life.
"The biggest change in my life from moving from Afghanistan to the United States is feeling more secure and safe in my daily life. In Afghanistan we lived in fear," said Amiri.
No longer in fear, they are looking to the future.
Tamana plans to learn English, while Sher is working to get his GED and become a police officer.