TAMPA, Fla. — A Tampa-based nonprofit is continuing its rescue missions in Ukraine and recently helped get an American combat veteran to safety.
“It was one of those like I can’t believe that we pulled it off moments,” said Bryan Stern, co-founder of Project Dynamo.
Stern and his team with Project Dynamo are used to the challenging rescue operations in Ukraine. The Tampa-based nonprofit faced yet another difficult rescue of an American combat veteran.
“He had tanks parked on his street for perspective. Russian tanks,” said Stern.
For the past week, Project Dynamo team members said they worked to try to get retired Sgt. 1st Class Bob Platt and his wife to safety after the veteran found himself in the Russian offensive corridor and surrounded at his home outside Kyiv.
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The organization said they attempted to rescue Platt earlier in the week, even making it within 8 kilometers of Platt’s location, but were forced to abort the rescue operation when the team came under fire.
“We kind of pulled back a little bit. Bob had asked us to stop. He says it’s too dangerous, leave me,” said Stern. “Told us to leave him, and we said we’re not doing that. We said you have two very specific purposes in life right now: One is you’ve got to stay alive, and two you’ve got to stay positive. Don’t give up on me because I’m not giving up on you.”
Eventually, Platt and his wife crossed the Polish border with Project Dynamo members. Stern shared how Platt’s case really resonated with him.
“Every one of these rescues, whether it’s a grandmother or a baby, we take very, very, very personally because we’re there with them,” said Stern. “In Bob’s case, it resonated more because he was an Army infantryman. I was an Army infantryman.”
As of Sunday, Project Dynamo said it’s rescued more than 215 people from Ukraine. The organization says it’s received more than 14,000 requests for evacuation since Russian forces invaded the country.
“To be able to do this for him and his family as an American, as a combat vet, as a human, all those things just made it really, really, really special for us. It really did,” said Stern.