A retired lieutenant colonel Thursday attended the high school graduation of a girl he saved from Iraq 18 years ago.

Ret. Lt. Col. Greg Pepin let Awaz Barwari, then 22, and her 36-day-old newborn daughter Lava use his name to flee Iraq because the Kurdish family was on Saddam Hussein's kill list. Awaz was on the list of Kurds who could leave Iraq, but an Iraqi official said Lava’s name was not.

FOX 5 Atlanta reported:

“I told the man I was not leaving without my baby. He said I could leave her with other family in Iraq or not leave Iraqi. So I said I wasn't leaving. Lt. Col. Pepin spotted the family leaving and intervened,” Barwari said.

“I told them if the baby's name was ‘Greg,' she could come with me under my passport,” the Lt. Col. told FOX 5's Portia Bruner. They didn't understand what I was trying to do at first, but then they realized I was trying to help.”

Eighteen years later, Lava found Pepin online and invited him to her high school graduation. Lava said that she and her mom wouldn’t be in the U.S. if it wasn’t for Pepin.

“It makes me be proud to be an American because America says, 'We’ll take families like this,'” Pepin said.

See photos posted by FOX 5 Atlanta below.

AMAZING REUNION: As a soldier, he helped save a 36-day-old girl facing persecution in Iraq about 18 years ago. Thursday,...

Posted by FOX 5 Atlanta on Thursday, May 21, 2015

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