The Mast family’s story is one of courage, faith, and fortitude.
It all began in September 2019 when Army Rangers with 1st Bn, 75th Ranger Regiment, carried out a mission against a nest of Al Qaeda foreign fighters in Afghanistan. During a brutal close-quarter fight, the Rangers recovered a wounded infant. The baby’s father died engaging American soldiers, while her mother detonated herself while holding her. Miraculously, the estimated six-week-old infant survived the blast but was seriously injured. Afghan partner forces with the Army Rangers wanted to throw the baby in the river or shoot her, but the Americans resisted and evacuated her with their own wounded.
Major Joshua Mast met the baby at Craig Joint Theatre Hospital and, like many of the Americans caring for her, felt called by God to help protect her innocent life.
With permission from his Chain of Command, the support of the Office of the Vice President, and the help of his brother attorney Richard Mast, the Masts worked to create a path to safety and care available in the United States for the baby girl, code named “Starfish." They started guardianship and then temporary adoption procedures in a Virginia court to give the child a legal identity in order to apply for a visa, and eventually provide a home for her.
However, a high-ranking embassy official intervened and dumped the child in Afghanistan two days before the “peace” deal with the Taliban was announced. The Mast’s located the child, and they were able to finalize the US adoption to create a path to the US for her amidst the troop withdrawal in Afghanistan. They secured her safe evacuation to the United States, but she became a political football amidst the botched withdrawal in Afghanistan and fodder for negotiations between the Department of State and the Taliban.
An Afghan man and his teenage wife had brought the child to US forces against the orders of the Taliban. They, along with Major Mast’s interpreter’s three minor siblings, were evacuated in a helicopter behind Taliban Lines, again by US Special Forces, using the child’s American name and Military Dependent ID. The Afghan man previously made multiple statements saying the child did not live with him or his family and was aware that the Mast’s were legally responsible for her and intended to provide a home for her in the US.
The Afghan man changed his tune when he popped on the terror watchlist and was interrogated by federal agents for terrorist activity in Major Mast’s presence. Major Mast reported the child’s Al Qaeda origins and details of the mission where she had been recovered to the FBI via his Chain of Command. Suddenly, the girl went from being a “cousin” the Pashtun man thought would be better off with the Mast’s to claiming she was his daughter that the Mast’s had taken from him.
Major Mast and his wife, Stephanie, have been embroiled in legal battles to keep the child safe. They have drained all of their savings and racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt to fight factions of their own government who have denied critical witnesses, literally suppressed evidence, and are trying to take their baby girl away.
Despite the absurdity of having to fight an Afghan couple with terrorist ties who are making allegations to shift scrutiny off themselves, the Mast’s have remained steadfast in their efforts to keep the baby, code named Starfish, safe.
We need to help this Marine keep his family together.
The Pipe Hitter Foundation is joining the Masts in their righteous fight. We are stepping up to support this brave Marine and his family who have made incredible sacrifices to provide this child a life in the United States.