Veteran Non-Profit Helps Rescue Americans Trapped in Ukraine

by Courtney Blackann

Days after Russia invaded Ukraine in what Russian leader Vladimir Putin called a “military operation,” a veteran volunteer group is helping trapped Americans escape.

Project Dynamo is the nonprofit group that aims to rescue Americans who were in Ukraine when the capital city of Kyiv saw a barrage of Russian troops cross its borders.

According to the Military Times, Project Dynamo founder Bryan Stern said he and other volunteers are picking up Americans and driving them to safety.

“I’m doing 90 [mph] doing a rescue in the middle of World War Three. That’s how it’s going,” Stern said when the news outlet asked how things were unfolding in Ukraine.

Since Wednesday, the veteran-led team has helped evacuate nearly 50 Americans escape. But there’s a backlog of more than 1,000 people asking for help, says co-founder Matthew Herring.

“It’s just a matter of us getting folks organized,” Herring told Military Times. “Getting them to vehicles and getting them to safety.”

Project Dynamo’s Creation

Project Dynamo began when Herring and Stern wanted to find a way to aid U.S. citizens in evacuating Afghanistan. Their team has nearly two dozen volunteers – all of which are either current or former U.S. military members.

Further, the group played a significant part in evacuating Americans out of Afghanistan after the Taliban seized control of Kabul in August 2021.

So it was a no-brainer for Project Dynamo to begin inserting volunteers into Ukraine when tensions rose and the Russian threat to invade became serious. Stern says that he began placing volunteers in Ukraine after the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv was evacuated last week.

“If there are Americans that need help,” Herring said, “then we’re the Americans that are going to help them.”

Veteran Group Getting People Out Safely

Rescuing Americans is limited to a ground operation as the air war continues to rage. However, Ukrainian government officials are doing what they can to encourage these evacuations. The country’s leaders have done nothing to stop Project Dynamo’s mission. Their only hindrances are long traffic lines and constantly changing routes.

Though its cities have turned into a battleground, Project Dynamo leaders say they will do everything possible to get to all 1,000 Americans needing a way out.

“We’re not going to stop. We’re going to keep going,” Herring said.

Following the invasion of Ukraine, President Joe Biden addressed the nation about what this means for the United States.

 “This is a dangerous moment for all of Europe, for the freedom around the world. Putin has committed an assault on the very principles that uphold the global peace. But now, the entire world sees clearly what Putin and his Kremlin allies are really all about.”

The President continued:

 “Our forces are not, and will not, be engaged in the conflict with Russia in Ukraine. Putin is the aggressor. Putin chose this war. And now he and his country will bear the consequences.”