The deployments provided, he said, “the same adrenaline rush as the military.”
“Most of us need that in our lives once we have served in that tempo and at the highest level in our militaries,” Mr. Kahu said. “It never goes away.”
An Interpreter With Roots in Syria
Ghadir Taher, 27, was an Arabic interpreter from East Point, Ga., who was working in Syria for Valiant Integrated Services, a defense contractor. Ms. Taher was born in Syria and became a naturalized American citizen after immigrating in 2001, her younger brother Ali Taher said in a phone interview.
She left the United States in May to translate for the military, Mr. Taher said. She not wanted to assist American troops in coordinating with Syrians on the ground, but also to help them understand and grow to love the country’s culture, said Mary Trachian-Bradley, a friend.
“Because of her background, she knew she could be a great resource to help,” Ms. Trachian-Bradley said in a phone interview. “She went there because she loved Syria. She believed in the future of Syria.”
Ms. Taher studied at Georgia State University and worked in health care before she left for Syria.
In a statement on Friday, Valiant Integrated Services called her “a talented and highly respected colleague loved by many who will be dearly missed.”
To her loved ones in Georgia, Ms. Taher was a lively extrovert who loved dancing — sometimes coaxing her shy friends onto the floor with her, Ms. Trachian-Bradley said.
In Syria, she treated the troops she worked with like family, Mr. Taher said. Although it was not part of her job description, she would often bring local ingredients to cook Syrian food for the troops.
“The Syria we grew up in isn’t the Syria that it is now,” Mr. Taher said. “She knew the difference, but she still made it home.”