Deployment to Afghanistan is a difficult situation for many U.S. soldiers, but it is also a time when strong bonds are formed between soldiers. Staff Sgt. Jesse Knotts formed lasting friendships with his fellow soldiers, but also with someone a lot smaller -- a stray cat that he named Koshka.
Knotts found Koshka in the Maiwand district in Afghanistan in 2011 and took him in because he said the cat was "showing some signs that people weren't taking very good care of him." U.S. personnel are not allowed to keep pets, but Knotts cleared out a small space in his office for Koshka to hide in anyway.
In December 2011, a suicide bomber targeted a convoy near the base, taking the lives of two of the sergeant's friends. While he was crying in his office, Knotts said, Koshka approached him and lay down in his lap to comfort the man who had rescued him. Knotts said, "He pulled me out of one of my darkest times, so I had to pull him out of one of his darkest places." He added, "You lose faith in a lot of things, but it's the smallest things that bring you back."
When his deployment was over, Knotts could not bear the thought of leaving his new companion behind. A local interpreter risked being discovered to help him take Koshka to Kabul. Knotts's parents paid $3,000 to fly Koshka to Oregon City, Oregon, where the two friends can now enjoy happier times together.
[Related: Soldier Hopes to Be Able to Adopt K-9]