Lifestyle & Human Interest

Combat Veteran Group Successfully Completes 19 Rescue Missions in Ukraine, 'Many More' Planned


Bryan Stern has spent much of his life in service to others. He’s not only a combat veteran of the U.S. Army and Navy, but he was one of the first responders on the scene during 9/11.

He’s more than earned retirement, but he’s still not done helping people. Instead of taking it easy and resting on his laurels, he took his specialized skill set and created Project Dynamo.

According to its Facebook page, Project Dynamo is “A coalition of veterans and civilians, committed to the evacuation of Americans” and is “a 501c3 non-profit organization, with no government funding.”

The effort was started in August when the U.S. military pulled out of Afghanistan, leaving many stranded and in need of extraction. According to NBC News, the combat veteran team has helped rescue thousands, and when tensions started rising in Ukraine, they were quickly on the ground.

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“They are currently traversing the Ukrainian countryside and trying to make their way to an American embassy in a neighboring country,” spokesperson James Judge said.

“The evacuation began minutes after our team on the ground physically felt the nearby explosions in Kyiv last night.”

One of the big rescue stories that recently made headlines was the team’s rescue of newborn twins Moishe and Lenny, who were born prematurely to a surrogate mother in Ukraine while their parents in the U.S. watched helplessly as war broke out.

The rescue, dubbed “Operation Gemini,” was even more tricky because the babies were so fragile and Stern and his team had to navigate through a snowstorm and Russian attacks while also watching out for the well-being of the infants.

“Honored the Project Dynamo team was given the opportunity to help the Spektor family with rescuing their twin premature sons, Lenny and Moishe,” Project Dynamo posted on March 8 after the successful run.

“Every seat filled on each of our missions, has a story, a family, and is equally important, but pulling this mission off was such a rewarding experience.”

Since families make up the bulk of their operations, Stern has had the opportunity to see many children taken out of harm’s way and brought to safety.

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“We have kids on almost every run,” he told “Today.” “Wouldn’t say every single (one), but the vast majority, because they’re families. And families come with kids.”

Another veteran and his wife were recent evacuees as well — though the rescue was dangerous and on the first rescue attempt, the group came within eight kilometers of the veteran and then had to drop back as the Russians targeted their crew.

“Mr. Platt, a veteran of the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division who served in Operation Just Cause and Operation Desert Storm,” Project Dynamo shared on Tuesday after safely removing the couple. “He and his wife were surrounded by Russians. According to Platt, he and his wife had to shelter in place as Russian forces looted their neighbors’ surrounding homes. Their neighborhood was being mercilessly shelled by artillery and Russian tank battalions were blocking their roads preventing them from getting out on their own.”

“We knew going into this mission it would be dangerous but the Dynamo team were determined to figure out a way to safely complete Mission Devil. Pushed by our ‘no man left behind’ mentality, and knowing one of our own, an American Vet, was left to shelter in place in the middle of a war zone, we were up for the challenge.

“So happy to report we have another successful mission.”

According to “Today,” the group has successfully completed 19 rescue missions in Ukraine since the Russian invasion.

The group’s most recent operation, “Gemini 4,” involved another newborn.

“GEMINI 4 ((JOSEPHINE ABBOTT)) baby op is officially a successful mission!!” they posted on Wednesday.

“The Project Dynamo team couldn’t have known going into all of this, we’d be evacuating so many infants out of hostile territory and into the arms of their parents safely. But we are honored again and again when we are specifically sought out by parents to secure their precious cargo and bring them to safety.

“We have so many more ops in the works right now and wanted to express yet again, how grateful we are for all of our donors and those who support our missions! Thank you for funding our efforts, we couldn’t do this without all of you!”

The need is great, and the team has received over 14,000 requests for help. If you would like to donate to Project Dynamo’s cause, you can do so on their website.

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