OCEANSIDE, Calif. (KGTV) — Marine Corps veteran Eric Fleming and his girlfriend Terri Ensor were like many of us many weeks ago — glued to our TV seeing Russia start a war with Ukraine.
"When I saw that old lady that needed help walking across that plank and the water rushing over her feet, it just hit me right in the heart,” Fleming said.
After speaking with friend who Fleming served with, they began to fundraise for a two-week humanitarian aid trip to Ukraine.
They raised thousands of dollars in donations for things like food, diapers, clothing and more so Fleming and his friends could help those in need. The group left on June 13.
"If they couldn't give, they could click on a link where they could say a prayer,” Ensor said. "He was doing the right thing, right? He had carried what we had all given there. So we all felt like we had hands in it."
While Fleming and company were there, the war's destruction was shocking to say the least.
"And decimating every house on the block. The scope of that you just can't pick up from an image on your TV. And then the personal stories,” Fleming said.
One of those stories was of a Ukraine solider and his working dog who died in the war.
"And that's the one where the mom, Ursula, was just trembling when she told us about this,” Fleming said.
Ensor always kept the faith that Fleming would be safe and was in good hands while in Ukraine.
"However, the day that I knew that they were going to Kyiv, which I knew had been previously occupied and bombed and et cetera by Russia, you know, I had a little bit of fear. You know what if he didn't come home,” Ensor.
While she may have some stressful days, Ensor said she was grounded during Fleming’s trip.
On Sunday, Fleming did come home safe and sound.
"We couldn't save the world, you know, going over there with $35,000; might have just been a little speck of the grand scheme of things. But, for those people, we touched, it was everything,” Fleming said.
And his work for those people they touch during their two-week trip isn't over now that his home.
"When I got back here, I was not going to forget them, that I was going to shine the light on to what was happening to my entire network,” Fleming said.
"It's really important that we don't forget,” Ensor said.