Former Vets From Tampa Have Now Evacuated 215 People From Ukraine

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TAMPA BAY, FL — They’ve left behind family and leadership roles in businesses they founded to spend the past month and a half volunteering to evacuate Americans from Ukraine as the war with Russia escalates.

But members of Project Dynamo, made up of former combat veterans, said it’s been worth every moment.

To date the Tampa-based nonprofit group has run gauntlets, dodging Russian troops, GRU officers (Russia’s former KGB) and battle zones to drive 215 Americans and other NATO allies to safety in Poland, Romania and Hungary.

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Among the latest of those rescued are an 8-day-old baby and a retired Army sergeant and his wife.

Bryan Stern, co-founder of Project Dynamo and a Purple Heart recipient, said retired Sgt. 1st Class Bob Platt, a veteran of the 82nd Airborne Division who served in Operations Just Cause and Desert Storm and his wife were surrounded by Russian troops at their home outside Kviv, Ukraine, when they contacted Project Dynamo.

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“Russian forces looted their neighbors’ surrounding homes while their neighborhood was being mercilessly shelled by artillery with Russian tank battalions blocking their roads,” Stern said. “He had tanks parked on his street, Russian tanks. He told me to leave me and we said we’re not doing that.”

The relentless attacks made it impossible for the Project Dynamo volunteers to extract Platt and his wife. Team members made it within five miles of the Platts’ home when they cam under military fire and were forced to retreat.

“Having been on the receiving end of Russian artillery, it puts in painful perspective what the Platt family and their neighbors have been enduring over the last several weeks as Russian troops were literally in their back yard,” Stern said. “But, we never lose sight of our No. 1 priority, which is to never leave Americans behind, especially a fellow combat veteran. So we pressed on, devised a new plan and found a window of opportunity. I am proud to say we were finally able to rescue Platt from Russian-occupied territory and transported him to safety in Poland on Saturday evening (March 19).”

The relief was audible in Platt’s voice once he and his wife and cat were on their way to the Polish border.

“We’re about 20, 30 ks (kilometers) from the Polish border, and it’s been a long and tiring day. We got evacuated We appreciate everthing Bryan and his crew have done for us.

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Another rewarding experience was the rescue of an 8-day-old surrogate baby boy named Aari adopted by a Canadian couple.

The couple was stuck in Poland while their baby remained in a clinic in Kyiv but they feared for the baby’s safety as Russian troops drew closer to the clinic.

Project Dynamo team members came up with a plan to dodge Russian troops and make their way to the clinic where they removed the baby and delivered him to his grateful parents in Poland.

“We’re deeply grateful to the Canadian embassy for the overwhelming support they provided before and throughout this mission,” Stern said. “Their help was truly imperative, and it would have been far more difficult without their support.”

Project Dynamo

An 8-day-old surrogate baby boy named Aari was transported by Project Dynamo from a clinic in Ukraine and united with his adoptive parents in Poland.

The volunteers, accompanied by neonatal nurses and physicians also led an ambulance carrying twin American premature baby boys and a premature British baby girl to safety across the Ukraine border.

In all, the volunteers have completed 20 missions, piling evacuees into cars and loading buses.

However, Stern said there’s a lot of work left to be done.

His organization has received more than 14,000 requests for evacuations. And, because there is no U.S. embassy in Ukraine and the U.S. State Department is unable to enter the country to help, Stern said the volunteers are basically on their own.

The U.S. State Department issued the following alert:

” U.S. citizens in Ukraine should depart immediately if it is safe to do so using any commercial or other privately available ground transportation options. U.S. citizens should not travel to Ukraine due to the active armed conflict. All U.S. citizens should carefully monitor government notices and local and international media outlets for information about changing security conditions and alerts to shelter in place. Those remaining in Ukraine should exercise increased caution due to the potential for active combat, crime, and civil unrest.
The U.S. Department of State suspended operations at U.S. Embassy Kyiv, effective Feb. 28, 2022. All in-person consular services in Ukraine are suspended until further notice. Since Feb. 24, Russia’s forces have attacked major Ukrainian cities, and the Ukrainian government closed its airspace to commercial flights due to Russia’s military actions.
The security situation throughout Ukraine is highly volatile, and conditions may deteriorate without warning. U.S. citizens should remain vigilant and take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness. Know the location of your closest shelter or protected space. In the event of mortar and/or rocket fire, follow the instructions from local authorities and seek shelter immediately. If you feel your current location is no longer safe, you should carefully assess the potential risks involved in moving to a different location.
U.S. citizens seeking emergency assistance and those who decide to remain in Ukraine should complete this online form and the State Department will respond. The U.S. government will not be able to evacuate U.S. citizens from Ukraine. Please review what the U.S. government can and cannot do to assist you in a crisis overseas. U.S. citizens may seek consular services, including requests for repatriation loans, passport and visa services at U.S. embassies and consulates in neighboring countries.”

Evacuees can also register with Project Dynamo at

Anyone interested in donating to Project Dynamo can click here.

All donations go to providing safe ground transportation to airports, fuel for helicopters and planes to evacuate Americans and NATO allies, pilots and food and supplies for the evacuees and rescuers.

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