Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
BRIGHAM CITY — As war continues to claim casualties in Ukraine, a Brigham City man — currently between Hill Air Force Base job assignments — is spending all his time in Poland lending a hand to relief efforts as refugees pour over the Ukrainian border.
Solomon Smith is a father of four, husband, brother, and soldier in the Utah National Guard. Smith's wife, Tamara Lynn Smith, said at first the idea of going to Poland did not strike him as ideal. It was only after their 9-year-old son insisted he go and do what he is trained to do, that Solomon and Tamara Smith knew he would have no other choice.
"We wanted to help and couldn't figure out how to help, and it was actually my idea," Tamara Smith told KSL NewsRadio. "I think he was thinking about it, but I was the one who actually suggested it. Then we talked about it with our kids. Our oldest, Mark, wanted his dad to go."
Tamara Smith said her husband is trained for just such a mission, having been to Africa to work with the Peace Corps, and having twice been commissioned to Afghanistan.
Smith can go where others can't or won't go
Tamara Smith said her husband is in a unique position to help. Although he won't go into combat zones, she said he has been relying on contacts made with Polish and Ukrainian clergy for places to stay in order to help deliver supplies. She said relief agencies such as UNICEF and the Red Cross can only offer supplies to certain areas, mainly populated ones, leaving other areas in need.
"All these millions of refugees who are leaving these large cities under attack, have to travel all the way across (Ukraine) before they hit that border and leave. So between when they leave their home and when they cross the border with Poland, there's no support for them," said Tamara Smith.
Smith said that's where her husband comes in — by helping to bridge that gap with supplies and running medicine and food to smaller towns whose stores and clinics are in desperate need. It didn't take long for local ministers, pastors, teachers and medical clinic workers to contact Solomon Smith with specific orders of much-needed supplies.
On those days he makes the trek into Ukraine loaded with supplies from his post in Poland, he will often spend the night at a local clinic or church he has helped along the way.
'We're playing it by ear'
There is no timeline for Solomon Smith's return from Poland, although his job working with Hill Air Force Base is scheduled to return in May. Tamara Smith said there are many unknowns, including the changing needs of the continuous flow of fleeing refugees. She said some others who are helping to bring in supplies or to transport the many refugees of war have only a limited time to stay.