An American military veteran has left his job as a home renovation contractor in Connecticut behind to travel to Ukraine and take up arms in the country’s fight against the Russian invasion.
James Vasquez, 47, arrived in Ukraine earlier this month, and is now fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with the country’s military against Vladimir Putin’s invading forces — all while posting nerve-wracking updates on Twitter.
A former US Army staff sergeant who served two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, Vasquez is the father of four adult children, with two sons and two step-sons, his wife Tina told DailyMail.com.
Since trading in his tool belt for an AK-47 and hand grenades, Vasquez has faced harrowing combat in an undisclosed part of Ukraine, but Tina says that she has supported his decision to join the fight from the very beginning.
‘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.
‘Go ahead, just make sure you come home,’ Tina recalls her reply. ‘This is what he needs to do, and I need to support him.’
James Vasquez, 47, arrived in Ukraine earlier this month, and is now fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with the country’s military against Vladimir Putin’s invading forces
Vasquez is seen with his wife Tina in their Connecticut home just before leaving on his trip to fight alongside Ukraine’s military against the Russian invasion
The couple, who have been married for seven years, live in Norwalk, Connecticut, and Tina admits that at times it has been stressful knowing that her husband is in harm’s way at Putin’s forces continue their bloody onslaught.
‘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.’
But, she added: ‘I’m super proud of my husband, he’s my hero and he’s met a lot of great people over in Ukraine.’
On Thursday, Vasquez posted a video showing the remains of a decimated Russian tank in an undisclosed location, after clearing a village of Russian occupation.
‘This village has been Russian occupied for a month, they terrorized the people and took their food. Today we entered, took out seven tanks and countless Russians thus liberating these people,’ wrote Vasquez on Twitter.
The official account of Ukraine’s armed forces shared the video, and praised the work of the country’s International Legion, which is made up of volunteers from other countries, mostly military veterans, who have volunteered to join the fight.
On Thursday, Vasquez posted a video showing the remains of a decimated Russian tank in an undisclosed location, after clearing a village of Russian occupation
Vasquez (right) is seen with other members of his unit, a mix of Ukrainian and foreign legion soldiers who fight together side-by-side
After days of eating eggs and dumplings, Vasquez was able to secure 30 pounds of steak, which he and his unit cooked up on an impromptu grill
In another video, Vasquez clarified that he is not receiving any payment for his service in Ukraine, adding that the self-financed voyage has imposed a heavy financial burden on his family.
On Twitter, Vasquez has shared frequent updates praising the camaraderie and fighting spirit of his fellow soldiers in the Ukrainian military.
‘These men are remarkably undertrained but what they lack in skills they make up in courage so when we have downtime I train them on tactical maneuvers, use of thermal and night vision, proper weapon cleaning etc,’ he wrote in one update on Thursday, adding that the Ukrainian troops were ‘fast learners.’
He explained that securing equipment and resupply was at times chaotic, but that average Ukrainians have chipped in at every turn, including the owner of a hunting supply store who gladly gave him binoculars for free upon learning that he was an American volunteer.
In another update this week, he wrote that his weapon was ‘pretty beat up’ and that he had traded it in for an AK-47 that he took from ‘a Russian’.
Vasquez explained that securing equipment and resupply was at times chaotic
On Twitter, Vasquez (above) has shared frequent updates praising the camaraderie and fighting spirit of his fellow soldiers in the Ukrainian military
Vasquez (left) plans to continue fighting in Ukraine for at least two months
‘Every time a vehicle gets shot up or breaks down we just commandeer another vehicle,’ he tweeted on Thursday. ‘Heading to the front lines in style. New infinity. It’s so hard to find 4×4 vehicles here.’
Vasquez revealed that his unit was on a mission to find ‘a pack of Russians spotted hiding by civilians.’
‘Going to get intel from them and eliminate threat. I have my drone with me to fly overhead and try to spot them,’ he wrote.
Hours later, Vasquez wrote that he had just been through ‘six straight hours of combat’ and that his team had suffered casualties, including one fatality.
In return, Vasquez said that the Ukrainian forces had taken out ‘countless’ Russians as well as seven Russian tanks.
It is not against US law for American citizens to enlist in the militaries of foreign countries, so long as they are not engaged in hostilities against the US. Pictured: Vasquez seen right
Vasquez recently revealed that his unit was on a mission to find ‘a pack of Russians spotted hiding by civilians’
After spending years working in New York City as a construction supervisor for high-rise projects, Vasquez now owns his own business doing home remodeling in Connecticut
At times, Vasquez has also posted chilling observations about the Russian military’s battlefield conduct.
‘Russians refuse to take their dead. Their fallen soldiers are left to be eaten by stray dogs,’ he wrote earlier this week.
‘Another example of pieces of s**ts. Americans would never leave a man or corpse behind.’
Vasquez arrived in Ukraine on March 14, after flying into Poland and making his way across the frontier by land.
It is not against US law for American citizens to enlist in the militaries of foreign countries, so long as they are not engaged in hostilities against the US.
Ukraine has been actively recruiting foreigners, particularly those with military combat or law enforcement experience, to join in their fight against Russia.
Vasquez’s wife Tina tells DailyMail.com that he plans to stay in the fight in Ukraine for at least two months.