More than ever, our Ukrainian military and civilian brothers and sisters need basic military training to fight the Russian Army. Since the Russian Air Force is largely grounded back home, mostly for embarrassing reasons we don’t need to address now, I won’t include them here. The Russian Navy? Sorta ditto on those guys, too.

Sadly, Putin started a big war with Ukraine and forgot to invite his own Air Force and Navy. Maybe he’s saving money to pay the oligarchs who back his regime and are building his dacha on the French Riviera.

My deeply personal message to Putin: Sekir Baschka!

Ukraine needs donations, yes. They also need good training in how to counter the Russian Army and kick some butts.

As we’ve seen in news reports, the civilian population of Ukraine is suffering heavy casualties in some cities, with little outside relief. Hello, Red Cross!? They not only need donations, but they need good military training to counter the Russian Army’s aggressive actions. We could be training them on neutral ground, then returning them to their respective cities and towns where they’d be better equipped to handle the enemy.

Recall the OSS during WWII: they recruited hundreds of civilians skilled in various fields and put them to work against the Nazis, Italians, and Japanese. The results were spectacular and the OSS drove the enemy to near-insanity.

American Volunteers in Ukraine

Former US Army SGT James Vasquez and his band of merry Ukrainian tank killers. (James Vasquez, Twitter: @jmvasquez1974)

Volunteer US Army special-operations forces operators—among other former US military airmen, soldiers, and sailors—have taken it upon themselves to travel on their own dime to Warsaw then onto Ukraine to quietly train Ukrainian military assets. My sources tell me everyone is having a blast and that it’s more like a Boy Scout jamboree with a thousand of your best buds.

Need Money For Your War? Crowdsourcing, Baby!

Vaz showed the world that if you wanna go to war, start a PayPal campaign to raise funds. He’s gotten over $50,000 so far.

Donate here at PayPal: [email protected]

That’s cool, Vaz, but what about the much larger civilian population that faces Russian aggression each day? They cannot follow you around on your missions and learn your tactics. They need formal training. There is a precedent for such an action, though distant: The Lodge-Philbin Act of June 30, 1950, or the Lodge Act.

The Lodge Act of 1950

In the 1950s, the US Army recruited just over 200 skilled fighters, technicians, and experts in certain fields from Eastern Europe and Soviet-bloc countries, with the hope these men (and women) would return to fight the oppression of their fellow countrymen and stop the spread of Communism in Europe. Most of the men served in US Army Special Forces units in Europe, esp. the 77th Special Forces Group, each waiting to infiltrate his own country and perform on orders from the US military.

Joe Masin (R), Ray Masin (Center) and Milan Paumer (2nd from R).

The law that made this possible originally called for up to 2,500 foreign nationals to enlist, primarily in the US Army. US citizenship was awarded to those who fulfilled their five-year obligation with an honorable discharge from the military.

Ray Masin, Joe’s older brother, as a young Special Forces recruit.
Lodge Act recruit Joe Masin as a Special Forces PFC.

I personally knew two of those men: Citrad “Ray” Masin and his younger brother, Josef “Joe” Masin, via Joe’s daughter, Barbara, my girlfriend for six years while I was living in Santa Barbara, CA, in the early 2000s. By then, Joe was a millionaire who owned a 30+ acre property in Montecito, not too far from Oprah Winfrey’s mammoth estate. Even late in life, he would lift weights like a madman in his garage.

Ray and Joe were two of five men who were involved in the greatest manhunt in the history of the Cold War: they escaped Czechoslovakia in October 1953 and were hunted by more than 20,000 East German and Soviet troops. Both brothers and one friend, Milan Paumer, made it to West Berlin on November 2, less than 30 days after their 200-mile odyssey. They killed several policemen along the way. Only Paumer was shot (7.62 punctured his abdomen). He didn’t realize it until he stuck his finger in the hole.

Veritas, Vol. 5, No. 2, 2009

The Lodge Act. group during 100-mile Bunion from Camp Lejuene to Fort Bragg. L-rear; PFC Josef Masin, middle SFC Smutterman (medic); Polish front left, back right SFC Marecek. We can forgive Joe for flagging the guys at right. Photo: George Marecek

A planned three-day exodus to West Berlin via East Germany (200+ miles) stretched into a month after they killed several policemen while resisting arrest. This triggered a nationwide manhunt. The fugitives had to live off the land in one of the harshest winters in history. Following a second shootout in which two were wounded, two were also captured. The Masin brothers, manhandling the badly wounded Paumer the final thirty-five miles to West Berlin, narrowly escaped thousands of East German police and military that had been mobilized for the declared national emergency. After reaching safety in West Berlin, the three survivors were covertly flown to West Germany. Ensconced in a safehouse in Erlangen, they were interrogated, polygraphed, and debriefed for several weeks.

When they declined to return to Czechoslovakia as Army CIC (Counter-Intelligence Corps) agents, enlistment in the US Army under the provisions of the Lodge Act was offered. “At the time, it was the only acceptable option. We had informed US intelligence that, in the event of armed conflict in the European theater, segments of the Czechoslovak Army would be disposed to support American military actions. My father’s old friend, Frantisek Vanek, a former general in Czechoslovak Army, and his group could deliver a whole frontline division—fourteen thousand men. If the division stood down and didn’t fight, the Western forces could pour through the breach and attack Soviet bloc troops to the north and south from the rear,” said Josef Masin. “Radio Free Europe had been encouraging resistance for years, and Dwight D. Eisenhower had promised to free the Eastern Europe countries during his presidential campaign.

A Warrior Poem for the Heroes of Ukraine

Read Next: A Warrior Poem for the Heroes of Ukraine

The three Czechs were delivered to Zweibrucken, issued US Army uniforms, and sworn in. They joined a group of Lodge Act enlistees in Sonthofen and shipped out from Bremerhaven aboard the USTS General Butler in December 1953. While in AIT at Fort Dix, NJ, the trio volunteered for airborne and Special Forces training and got orders to the 77th SFG at Fort Bragg. They wanted to return home to organize, train, and fight with the Czech resistance forces when the Americans came to free Eastern Europe from Communist control.

GAUNTLET, A Fascinating Book

GAUNTLET by Barbara Masin, daughter of Joe Masin, niece of Ray Masin.

For nearly five years, I encouraged Joe’s daughter to write a book about their ordeal and ended up being a contributing editor. I also wrote the action sequences in the book and advised on all aspects of military operations and tactics. Barbara spent considerable time teaching herself Czech, researching the escape, and traveling to Czech to interview living participants and witnesses. Gauntlet was published in 2006 to critical acclaim. I highly recommend it.

Sekir Baschka!

History aside, more than ever, we need to properly train Ukrainian citizens to counter Russian aggression.

In the least, it will demonstrate the strong will of all of us, especially the Ukrainians, and send a message to Putin and his henchmen: “You cannot invade our country and expect us to submit. No, Mr. Putin, Sekir Baschka!”

[Sekir Baschka is an old Ukrainian battle cry that means, “Off with the heads!” Translated literally: “ax head.”]