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Now part of the Ukrainian Resistance, Brymer has moved close to the front

  • This once bustling intersection in Kyiv, Ukraine sets eerily deserted as the city remains under Russian attack.

    This once bustling intersection in Kyiv, Ukraine sets eerily deserted as the city remains under Russian attack.
    David Brymer photo

  • A wrecked car sits abandoned on a Kyiv, Ukraine street near a barricade.

    A wrecked car sits abandoned on a Kyiv, Ukraine street near a barricade.
    David Brymer photo

Posted on 3/30/2022, 1:36 PM

UKRAINE -- It's been just over two months since Russian troops invaded neighboring Ukraine, an event that prompted Williamson County native David Brymer to purchase a ticket to Poland and cross the border in Ukraine and sign up to help thwart the invasion.

Putting his military training to work, Brymer has been in charge of setting up battalion aid centers and training staff to man them, operating from an area near Lviv.

Things changed over the weekend for Brymer, who has been operating as an independent agent.

"I am officially part of the Resistance," he said.

Brymer is now working near Kyiv with the Ukraine government as part of the resistance.

"I'm still training medics," he said, "but in a mobile way, moving from location to location."

Those locations are about three miles from the front.

Brymer also said he has been assigned a security detail to help protect his efforts.

As he works training medics, people he said are now treating casualties and even training other medics, Brymer said there are things he's witnessed that will remain etched in his memory.

"When I first came in, I saw a woman at the border hand over her 6-month-old baby to her mother in Poland, then turn around to fight against the Russians.," he said.

Brymer said the two exchanged information and she later ended up in his training classes near Lviv, before going to the front.

"That one hit hard and hit home," said Brymer, left his fiance' Chelsea Crider, and two children in their rural Williamson County home while he follows his calling to help the people of Ukraine.

Brymer was also part of a team that searched for survivors following a Russian attack on an orphanage near Nikolayev.

"The victims were children," he said with disdain. "They were 5 to 10 years old. That building was hit by a rocket. There are still kids missing."

Brymer said it's not just the young lives, but also the elderly, that move his heart.

"When I came in to Kyiv, there was old couple sitting on a bench," he said. "They were in each other's arms, holding flowers, and kissing while rockets were going off around them."

It is images like these that keep Brymer going and reinforce his belief that he is where he is meant to be at this time.

That belief is unshaken even knowing that he is the sole remaining soldier in the group he entered Ukraine with.

"Two were killed," said Brymer quietly. "The others were wounded and sent home."

Brymer remains determined and he says it's the spirit of the Ukrainian people as well as the knowledge that he is representing southern Illinois in what he says is a fight for humanity.

He is also grateful for those that have stepped up to help the efforts in Ukraine.

Mike Cross, commander of the Benton American Legion Post #280, has agreed for Post #280 to be a local drop point for this humanitarian effort. Cross said information on how to help is posted on the organization's Facebook page.

David said simply sending supplies or donations to the bigger organizations is a problem. "The country is split and the supplies are not getting to where they are needed," he said.

However, Cross has found a contact in Arkansas that is financing weekly flights to get supplies into Ukraine.

Brymer said medical supplies, black duct tape, and cash will help.

"There are ways for us to obtain things like body armor and morphine that can't really be shipped through civilian transports," he said. "We can also give to people who are trying to get across the border."

Right now he said that he is still trying to figure out how to safely get cash, but hopes to have that figured out this week.

For now, he will continue working, doing what he can to support the people of Ukraine.

"At the end of the day, borders are imaginary lines and we're all people," he said.

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