American and international volunteers and veterans have gone into the teeth of the war in Ukraine to help evacuate orphans to safety.
Army veteran Tyler Merritt and Ukrainian national Vlad Finn spoke to Fox News to discuss the dangerous humanitarian mission undertaken by a group of U.S. military veterans volunteering with the Aerial Recovery Group.
Merritt said that the purpose of the mission is to get women and children safely out of a dangerous area experiencing shelling and gunshots coming from “bad humans.” He is a veteran of the Army 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment and says that he has seen action in Iraq, Afghanistan, South America, and other locations he could not disclose.
Merritt said that the action he has seen in other war zones is “nothing in comparison” to the current situation in eastern Ukraine. He described the situation as a “modern-day holocaust using modern warfare.”
Finn spent much of his youth in a Ukrainian orphanage and is serving the mission as a translator and in moving orphaned children out of the most dangerous areas to safe zones in western Ukraine. Finn was adopted by American parents when he was 15 and said he sees himself in the children being threatened by the Russian invasion.
The volunteer group does not take the children completely out of the country for legal and community reasons. Merritt explained keeping the orphaned children together is vitally important to their stability during the war. With the difficulty that comes with international adoptions, he stressed that his group strives to keep the displaced children together.
Merritt and Finn also emphasized that it is important for anyone wanting to volunteer to help refugees not to enter the war zone alone. Rather, volunteers should always contact reputable humanitarian groups or directly donate medical services or funds when possible.
The volunteer unit has helped evacuate more than 600 orphans since the beginning of the invasion almost two months ago. Although the war rages on, the group says they are not leaving anyone behind.
Merritt explained that Russians are strategically targeting non-military targets, including women, children, and members of the media. He added that there are mercenaries working for the Russian military that are acting with total disregard for civilian life.
He went on to say that the war is a “pure test of good and evil” and that despite the horrors of war, the spirits of the Ukrainian people remain extremely high.