(WMBD) — Jamie Carney saw what was happening in Ukraine and decided he had no choice but to join the fight.
“It’s really bad. There’s no other way to really put it, it’s really bad over there. I’ve seen things that I wish I’d never seen, things that people shouldn’t have to see,” Carney said.
Originally from Peoria, Carney now lives in Pekin, and was working security when he applied to volunteer in Ukraine. After applying, he was recruited by an American task force to train Ukrainian police, so they can aid in military efforts against the Russian front line.
He left for the war-torn country on March 26 and returned last week.
“They’re fighting for their land, their freedom, their everything. And they’re doing a great job, but it’s a bad fight right now,” Carney said.
The only thing provided to the volunteers, Carney said, was their weapons; it was up to individuals to supply themselves.
Carney said of all the things happening, he had the hardest time getting used to the consistent air raid sirens.
“What’s really weird is, everyone’s just walking around, minding their own business, air raid sirens are going, kids are playing on a playground. A mother pushing a stroller down the street. I’m like, ‘what is going on? Do they not hear the air raid sirens?’ It just happens so often,” he said.
In addition to training Ukrainian police, Carney said, the Territorial Defense Foreign Legion– created as a response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine– also helped fight on the front lines.
“I have very loud ringing in my ears since being over there. I’ve had artillery shells that were fairly nearby. I’ve had a couple of close calls, but not super close. But close enough,” Carney said.
What brought him back to the states, he said, was family matters. However, he is willing to go back.
“I want to go back, I want to help Ukraine defeat Russia, and hopefully this doesn’t widen out into something bigger,” he said. “I’ll do my part. I’ll do anything. If they need me to go train more police in a different city, I’ll do that. If they want me to go to the front line, I’ll do that. Whatever they need me to do, I’ll do it.”
Carney said he does not anticipate the war will end any time soon.
“One of the reasons that I did go and want to go is, Ukraine cannot lose this war,” Carney said. “I feel if they lose it, then NATO will probably be in it. And I don’t want my sons to have to fight this war. So I’d rather go there and fight it, so my sons don’t have to.”