When Staff Sergeant Jesse Knotts saw a stray cat in the Maiwand District of Afghanistan who reminded him of his life back home in Oregon City, he felt like he needed to rescue him.
He named the cat Koshka and made a home for him in his small office space.
After two of his friends were killed in action, Knotts was devastated.
As he cried in his office, Koshka hopped onto his lap to give him comfort.
“You lose faith in a lot but sometimes it’s the smallest things that bring you back,” Knotts says of that moment.
“He pulled me out of one of my darkest times so I had to pull him out of one of his darkest places.”
When Knotts returned home, he knew he had to bring Koshka with him.
With the help of an interpreter who risked his life to ferry the cat halfway across Afghanistan through dangerous Taliban checkpoints over the course of several weeks, he was able to get Koshka to Kabul.
... And eventually to his new, happy home in Oregon City.