He Kept Me Alive in Afghanistan

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He Kept Me Alive in Afghanistan

From Earth in Transition
April 2013

He got me through some of my darkest times on that deployment," Knott said. "When two of my friends were killed in a suicide attack I lost all hope. It was my darkest time and he’s what got me through it. Just the bit of compassion and love that cat showed me is what it took to remind me to stay strong.

Pets aren't allowed on U.S. military bases in Afghanistan. At least not officially.

Koshka cat saved soldierStaff Sgt. Jesse Knott first saw Koshka appear from behind one of the barriers at his base. "People hadn't been taking very good care of him," he said in something of an understatement. The handsome kitty had several open wounds.

"He came limping out from one of the barriers. We had these giant concrete barriers to protect us from mortar attacks. I saw a blood trail behind him as he was limping."

Knott spirited the cat away into his office, and base commanders made an exception – or looked the other way – to enable the pair to be together. Knott cared for Koshka for the next seven months, and then worked with one of the animal charities in Kabul to get Koshka back to the States.

Koshka cat saved soldierFirst, though, he had to get Koshka from the base to Kabul. A cat couldn't go on a military convoy, but a local interpreter offered to drive Koshka himself – an equally heroic gesture when you consider that if he'd been caught by the Taliban doing a favor for an American, he would almost certainly have been killed.

But Koshka made it safely to Kabul, and Knott's parents paid for the flight home to Oregon, where they are looking after the kitty until Knott is discharged from Fort Lewis.

"He got me through some of my darkest times on that deployment," Knott said. "When two of my friends were killed in a suicide attack I lost all hope. It was my darkest time and he’s what got me through it. Just the bit of compassion and love that cat showed me is what it took to remind me to stay strong.

"That cat saved my life."