Tampa Bay Veterans Aiding American Evacuations From Ukraine
TAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - As Ukraine shifts to a war footing and political tensions rise Wednesday, many are buckling down amid warnings of a "full-on-invasion" from Russia. A Tampa Bay nonprofit group, on the other hand, is working to get Americans and American allies out of the country.
"Knowing that Americans were probably going to get left behind, we were like, 'let's not watch it on tv, let's not be a spectator. Let's try and help'," said Bryan Stern, Co-Founder of Project Dynamo. An American veteran-led organization, Project Dynamo was founded following the Afghanistan evacuations in 2021.
"When we deploy, we buy one-way tickets," he said Wednesday.
His team of volunteer veterans is grounded in the Special Operations and Intelligence Sector.
"We have the skills. We have the expertise. We've been doing these kinds of things for the government for many years," he said. "We've rescued more people personally than most military elements and most special operations elements in the government. The volume of what we've personally done is prolific."
For the last week, the Tampa Bay-based team has been mapping out Ukrainian exit routes from the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv which is currently shut down, itself.
"The invasion started just the other day. We've been here planning prepping and setting conditions and building out human and physical infrastructure, building out routes," said Stern. "What Ukraine is all about is taking the lessons learned from Afghanistan and applying them here. Getting Americans and NATO allies from where they shouldn't be to where they want to be, safely and legally."
But unlike prior missions, he says the current environment is different.
"The Russian Army – they have a tremendous cyber capability. If they take Kyiv, the first thing they're going to do is kill the phones and kill the lights. The Taliban don't do that."
And with Russian soldiers now entering the country, the team is in desperate need of donations to prepare for arrangements.
"Covid shots, if it's buses, if its safe houses it all costs money. Pilots cost money, airplanes don't fly for free," he said. "These things are incredibly expensive."
Project Dynamo is solely funded by donations. Click here to help.
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