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Manteca Veteran Plans To Return To Ukraine, But Not In The Battlefield

MANTECA (CBS13) - A retired Marine from San Joaquin County is returning to Ukraine.

Richard Campos, 70, won't be on the battlefield, but he will be helping Ukrainian soldiers. It is his humanitarian work that is leading him back to the war-torn country.

The Manteca veteran has always answered the call, since enlisting in the military in 1969.

"Simply, because it's the right thing to do," Campos said.

In April, he traveled to Ukraine to volunteer with the humanitarian group Domas Orientalis, where he worked to provide relief to women and children inside churches doubling as safe zones.

"My first night was so surreal because I was laying, and I couldn't sleep at all," Campos said.

Behind the children's smiles, he heard them crying at night.

With these images stamped upon his heart, he plans to return to the carnage this month.

He tells CBS13 he's bringing medical kits to soldiers on the frontlines. Currently, he's raising funds to buy the items. Campos will also have medical experts inspect the supplies to make sure they are suitable for the battlefield.

Campos is no stranger to humanitarian work. After being deployed to Iraq in 2003, he started working with families a few years later, specifically the Yazidi people of Kurdistan.

His venture will follow the death of a former U.S. Marine killed in action.

"Our hearts go out to his family and loved ones," said White Hous Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Friday. "We have not officially –  we don't have official confirmation even though we've seen the reports."

Willy Joseph Cancel's ultimate sacrifice is felt miles away in the Capital region, which is home to a large Slavic community.

"It's very sad, there's no words," Vlad Skots recently said, chair of Ukrainian American House. "But I would like to mention his words, what he said before going there.  So, he went there because he believed in what he was fighting for."

The death also comes as U.S. officials ask Americans to avoid traveling to the country.

Campos says he's not letting the increasingly fiery danger make him reconsider his upcoming trip.

"No, not one bit -- and it's not because I'm super brave or I'm a superhero, no," he said.

For him, it's because he hopes an ally would have his back should he find himself in the day of trouble.

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