Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes
SALT LAKE CITY — A U.S. Marine Corps veteran from Kaysville has been in Ukraine for a week helping refugees escape. He's been working with another Marine veteran who lives in Lviv, Ukraine. In the coming days, they're expanding their humanitarian operation as they keep a close eye on the distant fighting.
"It definitely does feel a little bit more dangerous," said Quan Nguyen, who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan for the United States.
The air raid sirens in Lviv this week are far more common than they were a week ago. But the majority of the assaults are still a good distance from the city in western Ukraine.
So far, Quan Nguyen and his friend in Lviv have helped more than 30 families get out of Ukraine, mostly women and children. They're having a positive impact, and he feels they are safe from the war, for now.
He spoke to KSL-TV on a video call Thursday from the quiet city center.
"The only time that it is a little bit frantic ... is when you have the air raid sirens," he said.
He says those air sirens add to a sense of impending trouble among the people.
"They hope that something doesn't happen. But, they're also planning."
The Marine veterans provide shelter for refugees who have left Kyiv, Lutzk and other cities under attack.
"They get some peace and quiet, especially for the kids. We've got some toys for them to play with. So, that's basically what we've been able to do," Nguyen said.
They give the Ukrainian families healthy food, a bed and a way to the border. Thursday night they even celebrated a birthday with a Ukrainian woman who is leaving her homeland Friday.
The veterans signed a lease on another house Wednesday so they can double the number of families they help.
As for the resolve of the Ukrainians who have stayed to fight. "They're not going anywhere," Nguyen said. "This is their home. This is it."
When Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed American lawmakers earlier this week, Nguyen said, everybody stopped what they were doing to watch and listen.
"It seemed like afterward, there was definitely a bump of energy. Everybody that you talk to they still wish for victory. They still wish for peace," he said.
Safe for now in Lviv, but for how long? His fellow Marine lives there.
"Worst case scenario, yes we would leave. We just don't know when. We would like to try to stay here as long as possible because we are able to have a lot of impact," Nguyen said.
They've been in contact with the local police, who plan to alert them and many other humanitarian groups when it is too dangerous to stay.
Right now, they are accepting Venmo donations at TF824, and online at TF824.org. That stands for Task Force 824. August 24 is Ukrainian Independence Day.
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