As the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues to rage on toward its 5th week, millions of Ukrainians are forced out of their homes to flee the destruction and combat. However, there are some people who have been drawn in with the will to serve and protect Ukrainians despite the dangers of the combat zone. One of those people is US Army veteran James Vasquez.
Vasquez has been documenting his experiences as a combat volunteer in Ukraine on Twitter, where he has amassed a huge following of 232.9k followers. In a recent video, Vasquez shared a clip of what seemed to be the aftermath of a Ukrainian attack on Russian forces, where he claims he and his group had taken out seven Russian tanks.
“This village has been Russian occupied for a month, they terrorized the people and took their food. Today we entered, took out 7 tanks and countless Russians thus liberating these people,” wrote Vasquez on Twitter.
This village has been Russian occupied for a month, they terrorized the people and took their food. Today we entered, took out 7 tanks and countless Russians thus liberating these people pic.twitter.com/0Fm3qHdepB
— James Vasquez (@jmvasquez1974) March 24, 2022
“Now, I don’t know if you guys know what this is behind me, but that’s a Russian tank,” said Vasquez in the video. Someone behind the camera then follows up with, “Welcome to America!” indicating that the US Army vet is giving Russians a taste of some good old American firepower.
In a follow-up post, the veteran tweeted out another video of him counting out four Russian tanks destroyed by Ukrainian operations.
“For those of you correcting me on tanks. I know some are armored vehicle. Just did not want to get into semantics but here’s some tanks to make you feel better,” James Vasquez wrote on Twitter, to which he described the day as a “good day.”
For those of you correcting me on tanks. I know some are armored vehicle. Just did not want to get into semantics but here’s some tanks to make you feel better👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻 pic.twitter.com/uWDtwlLDC9
— James Vasquez (@jmvasquez1974) March 25, 2022
In an earlier update on March 22, he proclaimed his group captured 159 Russian soldiers but was unfortunately prohibited from sharing any details and photos as international rules and norms of warfare prevent him from doing so despite a large number of photos and videos circulating showing Russian POWs.
The Army vet also shared his frustrations about the treatment of the Russian military for their dead. According to him, the Russian military refuses to take in the corpses of their fallen soldiers.
“Their fallen soldiers are left to be eaten by stray dogs. Another example of pieces of sh*ts,” Vasquez said. He added that “Americans would never leave a man or corpse behind.”
Taking a break. Carrying 80 pounds of gear will get you tired pic.twitter.com/I9afG9TwhB
— James Vasquez (@jmvasquez1974) March 24, 2022
SOFREP’s Guy McCardle also reported a few days ago that the Russian troops did collect some of their dead, with some being sent back home and with many being cremated through mobile cremation chambers. This was allegedly done to dispose of the dead rather than send them back to Russia to keep the actual number of soldiers killed a secret.
These were only some experiences Vasquez had documented on his Twitter page, which now has over 230,000 followers, catapulting him into somewhat of a military celebrity. Vasquez has been using his newfound fame to garner support to help equip the Ukrainians with much-needed weapons and supplies. His most recent initiative garnered around $50,000 in donations.
“Good morning, everyone. I want to thank everyone for their generous donations. You guys have already contributed almost 50,000 dollars!!! I want you to know that is enough for what we need right now, so please do not give anymore. Your support is overwhelming,” tweeted Vasquez to his followers.
Who is James Vasquez?
James Vasquez, 47, is a former staff sergeant in the US Army who served two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. He is a father of four children and was a home renovations contractor before volunteering in Ukraine. He arrived in Ukraine on March 15 after declaring his intent to join the Ukrainian resistance on February 25.
“I am a U.S. Army veteran. I’ve made the decision to go to Ukraine and fight along with their army. I will document my journey via Twitter. I just joined Twitter today for that reason. That being said, I’m a Twitter amateur, but I’ll be proficient before I board that plane,” Vasquez said in his first tweet.
His wife, Tina Vasquez, talked about the conversation she had with her husband when he decided that he wanted to go to Ukraine and fight.
“It’s in his DNA, and he approached me, came to me after work, and said, ‘We need to talk, I can’t watch this on TV, I need to go help these guys,'” she said in an interview with the Daily Mail.
“Go ahead, just make sure you come home,” Tina recalled as she responded to her husband. “This is what he needs to do, and I need to support him.”
The couple has been together for 7 years living in Norwalk, Connecticut. Tina shared how it can be stressful knowing that her husband is on the front lines of Ukraine up against Putin’s army.
“It’s been a struggle for me, worrying every day,” she said. “He tries to call me when he can, but sometimes he can’t, and my mind goes a little worried.”
Vasquez described his experiences in Ukraine as being “on an awesome, very dangerous vacation” and says that his presence has been well-received by the Ukrainian troops.
“They are also shocked to see an American passport when I hit checkpoints. They let me right through because they think it’s awesome an American soldier is here to fight alongside them,” he tweeted.
The former Army staff sergeant clarified he came to Ukraine of his own will and has not seen other Americans so far. Vasquez added that he did not want to see Russian media use his presence as propaganda to imply the heavy presence of American fighters in Ukraine.
Vasquez most likely volunteered through Ukraine’s International Legion program. President Volodymyr Zelensky first announced the initiative to help bolster the Ukrainian defense. There were several concerns with the initiative, which questioned the quality of volunteers and their contributions to the war effort, if any. However, videos like that of Vasquez show the increasingly active roles that are being played by foreign fighters on the Ukrainian front lines.