Visiting Ukrainian Soldiers
Before we flew over for this trip, we put out a call for medical supplies that we could deliver to soldiers for use on the front. We were fortunate enough to collect a large load of all sorts of burn care blankets, high-quality wound bandages, tourniquets and other supplies that will hopefully end up saving soldiers' lives.
We delivered them, with an escort to get through the checkpoints, to a unit housed only miles from the zero line, the true "front". We could hear outgoing Ukrainian artillery firing, and were welcomed into a house where the unit inside was directing artillery strikes. These soldiers are eternally grateful for the help America has provided, so when we arrived, they were glad to give us a tour of how they operate.
We watched live drone footage of "Orcs" (Russian soldiers) moving about a trench, unaware that they were being observed. One of the soldiers there spoke excellent English, and told us how they prioritize their targets, what their kill ratio is, and showed us the equipment they use.
As we were watching the live footage, a Ukrainian artillery round landed directly on top of the Russian soldiers, no doubt sending all of them up to the great Dacha in the sky (or more likely, down below...). Moments later, we saw a large mushroom cloud go up where the round had hit; apparently it had also struck an ammo cache; the cloud was at least 50' high, so they hit something good.
After the tour, we headed over to check out a practice range a bit further from the front. It's located in a former open pit Calcium Carbonate "mine" of sorts, and makes a great practice range with different levels to shoot in, and plenty of backstops to catch rounds.
To be frank, we felt like kids in a candy store. Everywhere you looked, there were different weapons being fired: machine guns, snipers practicing, RPG's being fired at old cars, and we even got to watch drone training. We'd watch a drone with a grenade dangling below it disappear from sight within seconds, and a minute later, a loud BOOM downrange as it dropped onto its target. Truly jaw-dropping to watch in person, and a good lesson to us about how video and film don't even come close to capturing the true volume and intensity of these types of explosions.
Our visit was capped off with a ride in an Armored Personnel Carrier equipped with a machine gun and a 30mm cannon (no, we didn't get to fire those...). What a thrill to see the inside of it and get a feel for what it's like to be in motion with such restricted visibility. And no, they're NOT built for comfort or quiet!
The morale seemed very high among everyone we met that day. These guys (and women) are fighting for their homes, their land, their families, their freedoms. May they succeed brilliantly!