Djiboutian army Sergeant Younis Ahmed Douleh is holding a letter he had written and then carried for years in search of the two survivors he helped after a helicopter crash. A chance meeting with a U.S. Army sergeant in October 2013 led to special recognition for Douleh and three other soldiers and a special reunion of the soldiers and the survivors.
The crash happened February 17, 2006, when two U.S. Marine Corps CH-53 helicopters collided off the coast of Djibouti and crashed into the Gulf of Aden. Of the 12 U.S. service members aboard the aircraft, only two survived.
Younis and three other Djiboutian soldiers heard the crash from a remote outpost and ran almost 5 kilometers to help. Ever since that day, Younis had wondered about those two Americans. The letter he carefully wrote was an attempt to find an answer. For years, whenever he ran into an American, he let them read his letter. But because it was written in broken English, no one understood its message. Then on that day in October, he handed it to Staff Sergeant Luke Thompson, who had almost boarded one of those helicopters in 2006. He understood the letter.
For the whole story, see “Chance Meeting Leads to Recognition for Djiboutian Soldiers, Closure for Pilots,” on the U.S. Africa Command website.