San Diego County resident Mohammad Royesh arrived in Kabul with his wife and family on July 21. He had planned to stay in town only for a few weeks. His family was mourning the death of one of his sisters who had been killed by the Taliban.
But just three days shy of his return flight home, his plans completely changed.
"On Aug. 15, in the early morning, I was prepping my suitcase to be ready for the flight to Dubai when my niece came back from school and told me that the Taliban was coming to Kabul city," Royesh, now back home safe in San Diego County, told NBC 7.
Shocked and frightened over what could happen to his family, Royesh knew he had to get out of there as soon as possible.
“I called the U.S. Embassy many times, but nobody answered my calls,” said Royesh.
Finally, a friend in the U.S. was able to put Royesh in contact with the U.S. embassy.
On Aug. 20, they contacted him to tell him they were getting him out. They told him he needed to be at the airport at 8 a.m. the next day.
“We went there at 6 a.m. and we were there until 7 p.m. or 8 p.m.," said Royesh. "The gate never opened.”
Hopeless and disappointed, Royesh returned to his parent's home. But the next day the embassy contacted him again and gave him a new address to go to.
“There were a lot of people fighting, a lot of Taliban, a lot of them had M16s," Royesh recounted. “When we got to the other place there were five or six checkpoints by Taliban."
Holding on to the last bit of hope he had of getting his family to safety, Royesh continued.
“We passed six checkpoints by Taliban and they directed us from one building to another building and locked the door," he told NBC 7. "We were there from 9 p.m. to 9 a.m. that next morning. We slept on the floor, there was a lot of dirt and it was like a military base. And then finally, I think there were 110 people, we walked to the airport, met the U.S. military and they allowed us to get to the airport.”
Royesh and his family made it back home safe and sound on Aug. 23.
“I never believed that I would be back here,” said Royesh.
While he’s relieved to be home, Royesh tells NBC 7 he is worried about his family who is still stuck in Kabul. He says he talks to them every day but feels helpless that he isn't able to do anything for them.