Conflicts & War

The volunteer American soldiers willing to die in Ukraine

By Carles Grau Sivera and Sara Gomez Armas

Przemyśl (Poland)/Kyiv, Apr 12 (EFE).- At the train station in Przemyśl, a small Polish border town, young and middle-aged men from the United States, Canada, Spain and France puff on cigarettes while they check the timetable of a bus that will take them to the border with Ukraine.

Many of them have no military experience, but they are all steadfast that the only way to stop the war is by helping Ukraine on the frontlines as part of the International Legion, a 20,000-strong volunteer army made up of soldiers from 50 different countries.

“The Ukrainians need international support to win the war,” Lee Darnell tells Efe.

The 48-year-old chaplain from Tennessee traded his life as a missionary in Africa and Haiti and traveled to Ukraine on the second day of the invasion.

According to Darnell, Ukraine would not have lasted long without international aid, sanctions, military tools and medical supplies.

“Ukraine could not have stood against Russia by themselves,” he adds. “Nor should they ever have to. When a country is going through this kind of wickedness, this kind of violence, the whole world should rise up and help.”

After a stint on the frontlines, Darnell is now in Kyiv, after Russia scaled back attacks on the capital last week, and is assisting with logistical issues.

Another US citizen, Craig, who does not want to disclose his full name, arrived at the Ukrainian border a few days ago, but he had been planning the trip for a month and had raised around $30,000 to board a flight and join the war.

“I woke up on March 1 and decided I had to do something. Anything to make this stop,” Craig, a 55-year-old from Colorado, tells Efe.

According to Craig, humanitarian aid is important, but what Ukraine most urgently needs is more troops to join the fight.

The American volunteer is slightly nervous. He has never handled a gun before.

Like many others, Craig is traveling alone and didn’t muster the courage to tell his family where he was heading.

Because he has no military experience, Craig will spend four weeks in training before being sent to the eastern Ukraine front.

Prospective soldiers go through an interview process upon their arrival in the country, Darnell says.

“(The Ukrainians) decided what you brought to the table, they decided what you were good at, and then they started plugging you in,” the American recruit explains.

“Not everybody was plugged in, not everybody was used and so that was discouraging to some, but to those of us who were able to be used we are very thankful.”

Max, a 24-year-old American who preferred to remain anonymous, tells Efe he sold all his belongings, including his car, to join the war in Ukraine.

The young man, who was in the US Navy, says his experience should not be wasted when there are civilians who have never held a weapon and who have been thrown into a conflict they did not choose.

“I’m willing to die in the Ukraine if I have to,” he adds. EFE

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