There are hero’s that serve to protect our country every day. All the men and women who serve our country in the military risk their lives so that we may sleep soundly each night. Staff Sgt. Jesse Knott is just one of those hero’s. He risked his life while serving in Afghanistan but it’s the risk he took for a cat named Koshka that’s getting him attention these days. This is one of the amazing cat stories.
Jesse first met Koshka on base in the Maiwand District of Afghanistan. Koshka was the unofficial mouse catcher on base and, though there are many animal lovers stationed there, Knott noticed that Koshka wasn’t being taken care of like he sound have been. Jesse found the cat with his fur covered in paint on more than one occasion. Other times, he would find that someone had taken clippers and shaved portions of his back.
Jesse was concerned for Koshka’s welfare so he made room for him in his office, even though soldiers aren’t allowed to have pets. The two became close and Jesse found comfort in having Koshka greet him each day as he went to work. The cat made himself at home, curling up on top of the file cabinet or stretching playfully over Jesse’s computer keyboard. Koshka seemed happy with the new living arrangement and Jesse felt good knowing he was keeping the cat out of harm’s way.
Then, on December 8, 2011, a suicide bomber targeted a military convoy near Knott’s base. Two soldiers, close friends of Jesse’s, were killed in the attack. It was a difficult time for Jesse and he found himself in a state of deep depression. One day, while sitting at the desk in his office, he broke down sobbing.
Suddenly, Koshka was at Jesse’s side. Jesse looked at Koshka with tears in his eyes. The cat offered comfort in the only way he knew how. He reached out his paw and pressed it to Jesse’s lips, then climbed in to his lap and curled up to share his companionship. That was the moment that Jesse decided that Koshka needed to leave Afghanistan.
“Koshka pulled me out of one of my darkest times,” Jesse said, “so I had to pull him out of one of his darkest places.”
The soldier was unable to get his feline friend on a military convoy, so he forged a plan with a brave local interpreter who agreed to take the cat to Kabul. The plan was risky. If the interpreter was discovered helping an American, the repercussions could be deadly, for he and Koshka. The journey to move the cat halfway across Afghanistan, through countless Taliban checkpoints, was fraught with danger. But, the interpreter got Koshka to the Kabul airport undetected. There, Knott’s family (huge animal lovers, as well) paid $3,000 to fly the cat to their home in Oregon.
Since Koshka’s rescue, Jesse has left Afghanistan and is stationed in Washington State. When his military service ends, he plans to reunite with the cat that helped him through one of his darkest times.
After traveling many miles across country, the love that saved them both will have come full circle.