"I just want to help people": A few Americans attempt to join the fight against Ukraine

Americans were among the first to respond to Volodymyr Zelenskyy's call for "friends of democracy and peace" to join Ukraine's battlefront.

"I just want to help people": A few Americans attempt to join the fight against Ukraine

Dennis Diaz, a former Marine combat veteran, watched helplessly as images of children and women from Ukraine were projected across his TV screen.

Unrest brought back memories of why he joined the military in 2000. It also pushed him to go into battle, now that he has spent 18 years in reserves.


 

Only then is he bound to Ukraine.

"Russia crossed the line when it attacked civilians. It's almost like there are no limits," Diaz (39), a Burlington, Connecticut father of four told NBC News. It's not good at any of it."

Diaz was one of the Americans who responded to the call of the Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy . He asked "friends of democracy and peace" to sign the International Legion of Territorial Defense of Ukraine in order to aid the country's fight against Russia.

Zelenskyy stated Thursday that 16,000 foreigners have joined the new brigade. This number NBC News couldn't immediately confirm. It is unclear how many of them are Americans.

Andrew Bennett intends to join them.

The 45-year old, who lives in Bayonne in New Jersey, stated that for the longest time, "I felt like I didn't have any direction in my life. "These people who are fighting for freedom and their lives, their literally back in the corner."

Russian forces have gained control in southern Ukraine, and taken over Europe’s largest nuclear power station since the attack on its neighbor started more than a week ago. Russia has yet to overthrow Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital and seat of its Western-leaning government. This effort was thwarted in part by the stiff resistance of Ukrainians -- both soldiers and civilians.

Bennett stated that he is still waiting for his passport to be replaced so he can travel with them.

Although the carpenter does not have military experience, he said that he doesn't know if he is mentally or physically fit enough to fight in battle.


 

"I'm not going there to fight or play Rambo. Bennett stated that he just wants to help people, regardless of the risk.

"You know, I would gladly take a bullet for a Ukrainian. "Zelenskyy, I would happily take two bullets.

Although Bennet's intentions are to be commended and lauded, the U.S. State Department doesn't want any other American citizens following his example.

"Ukrainian citizens have shown their courage, and they are calling upon every resource and lever to defend themselves." "We applaud their courage," the U.S. State Department of State stated to NBC News in a statement. "However, the U.S. State Department of State reiterates its Travel Advisory that U.S. citizens shouldn't travel to Ukraine and that those living in Ukraine should leave immediately if they feel safe using private or commercial ground transport options.

According to the department, Americans are encouraged to use their energy for safe and constructive civil society activities such as advocacy funding or humanitarian aid.

Since the Russian invasion, more than 1 million people have fled the country, most of which are women and children.

The United Nations' human right office stated Friday that at least 331 civilians were killed in Ukraine and that 675 others have been injured. According to the agency, the death toll includes 19 children.

Before he was able to travel to Europe, Diaz spent time with his kids, ranging in age from 1-14 years.

His 14-year old son believes that his father is doing the right things, but his daughter says he should stay home. He is not deterred by the warnings of his friends about possible fatal consequences.

"I am a Marine and I stand for what is right. He said that the people of Ukraine needed help.

"If I were to be killed over there in Ukraine, then what would you do? Diaz stated that my children will be aware that I paid the ultimate price in order to stand up for what is right. It's time for us to stand side-by side and defend the nation, particularly the women and children, and make the world a better place and nation.

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