A Utah paramedic bought a one-way ticket to Ukraine during the Russian invasion. Now she helps keep other foreign fighters alive

The distant rumble of outgoing artillery can be heard as we march through the cover of the trees. A small snake passes and quickly disappears. We climb a small ramp and enter a courtyard where soldiers hastily pack up a vehicle in which they plan to head towards the front lines. American accents are heard back and forth on their radio communications.

Surprised and disconcerted to see a group of journalists, they waved us off. Obviously, they have other pressing matters. But after back and forth with the commander, we are told to find an American fighter and medic, known to his unit as “Baby Dog”.

She stands in the hot Ukrainian sun – dressed in full military uniform, her medical equipment in the pockets of the bulletproof vest. His weapon rests on his right shoulder and the yellow ribbon – a sign of allegiance to Ukraine – is wrapped around his left shoulder and arm. She covers her face with a dark green balaclava when speaking to the camera. Only his eyes are visible through his glasses.

“I wasn’t doing much at home. It was just two jobs, kinda boring,” Baby Dog said, speaking to CNN.

Working two jobs, this 21-year-old American paramedic was living a socialite life in Utah when the Russian invasion of Ukraine began. She saw the situation unfold on the news and felt the need to do something.

So she bought a one-way ticket to Ukraine and joined the fight to defend the nation from attack by Russian forces.

“It’s a human thing. You can’t sit and watch. It’s like sitting and watching someone kick a dog for no reason, kick a dog in the head. He’s crying. You don’t stop him,” the paramedic said. CNN in a village on the outskirts of Kharkiv in northeastern Ukraine.

CNN will not release its name or exact location of the unit due to security concerns and risks to foreign fighters stationed there.

She joined the Ukrainian International Territorial Defense Legion, a program launched by the government in late February to recruit foreign fighters, and became a soldier. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said a week after the unit was launched that 20,000 people from 52 countries had volunteered to fight in Ukraine.

Working as a paramedic in a unit made up of many American and German fighters, Baby Dog compares his new life to something out of a James Bond movie.

Bond has seen her fair share of violence and death, and she experienced it for the first time a few weeks ago – seeing a fight up close.

“I had my big medical bag. Everyone had all their gear. It was raining, it was miserable,” she said. “We were climbing a 45 degree hill in the road and then out of nowhere, just this huge cluster bomb.”

The force of the explosion threw her into the treeline, Baby Dog said. She could see one of their soldiers lying on the road, so she got up and started running towards him when the second bomb hit.

“I arrived and the second dam exploded,” she said. “They usually come in pairs here.”

Russia’s use of the “double tap” tactic, hitting the same spot twice within minutes of each other, is creating chaos. According to Baby Dog, the bombs were cluster munitions – small bombs within a main bomb that explode sporadically, creating even more chaos in an already unstable situation.

“We managed to pull him (the injured soldier) in the tree line as the cluster bomb exploded,” Baby Dog said of his Dutch comrade’s harrowing experience. “By the time we met him, he was already dead.”

His fallen comrade was just one of the foreign fighters killed in action in Ukraine. Last Saturday, International Defense Legion spokesman Damien Magrou paid tribute to four recently deceased fighters.

“We wish to remember and honor our fallen brothers, who traveled to Ukraine to join the bravest of the brave and fight shoulder to shoulder with the defenders of Ukraine,” Magrou said, calling the fighters ” unsung heroes who came here to defend the values ​​they believed in and stood against tyranny.”

Family "devastated"  by the death sentence of a British national by a pro-Russian court in Ukraine
And earlier this week, a court in the self-styled pro-Russian Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) sentenced three foreign fighters to death, accusing them of working as “mercenaries” in Ukraine. The men, two Britons and a Moroccan, were captured in mid-April in Mariupol as the fight for the port city continued.

“It was very difficult. The thought of, like it could have been me,” Baby Dog told CNN of the loss of his castmate. She says the horrors she has seen and experienced like this have shaken her faith in God.

“Before, I hadn’t really seen what a human could do to another human for no reason. And it kind of shook me to think that he would allow that or just let it happen,” he said. she said, looking away. thumb tapping the butt of his gun.

And even though she has had no dreams that haunt her sleep – no dreams for that matter – of returning to the United States in the future and assimilating to a world where war is something you only see in movies and in the news will take time. .

“I’ll have to play artillery in the background to fall asleep. I don’t know,” she laughed.

“It’s definitely going to be very different.”

David Danilyan contributed to this report.

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