SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — A Pacific Beach Marine veteran fighting in Ukraine is speaking out, in the wake of several American volunteer fighters who've been captured or killed in the conflict.
ABC 10News last talked to Eddy Etue in March, when the suffering of the Ukrainian people compelled him to sign up for the fight.
"It is July 4th. Let freedom ring," said Etue, 36, who spoke via an encrypted messaging app.
The Marine veteran who saw combat in Iraq in 2007 arrived in Ukraine in April, first helping on humanitarian missions, before joining the Territorial Defense, and enlisting in the Ukrainian military.
“When it come down to it, I hate bullies and that's how this started,” said Etue.
“I can't think of a better cause than to help them fight for their freedom, for their very existence,” said Etue.
Etue, who would only reveal that he's operating east of Odessa—not far from the frontlines—has helped train Ukrainian fighters, as well conducting operations such as laying down anti-tank mines and defending a position.
During battle, he draws upon his Marine training.
“You’re scared when you need to be, but you recognize when you don't need to be scared, and you push forward,” said Etue.
In the past several weeks, several Americans fighting in Ukraine have either been killed or taken prisoner, or gone missing.
“I feel bad for families. I feel bad for them … I came over here knowing the potential consequences of this, and I'm okay with that,” said Etue.
When he puts on the Ukrainian uniform, Etue, who is gay, wears a unicorn patch being worn by LGBT Ukrainian soldiers, who fear abuses if Russia takes over.
“With the Russians, showing them we're here, and we're also fighting you,” said Etue,
“Every time I look at it, I think about what's at stake here. That further contributes to why I’m here.”
Etue signed a 3-year enlistment contract and has no regrets.
“There has never a more resilient, determined, generous people ever … I’ve never felt this fulfilled in my life,” said Etue.
Etue says he now plans to stay in Ukraine even when the war ends.
An online fundraiser has been set up to help him unit with equipment and supplies.