December 5th, 2022

map of Ukraine

Had a quick admin day which included an oil change and new lights for my van. More importantly we finished obtaining supplies for our contact Edward from the Netherlands. Edward is a professional cook and obtained permission to set up a field kitchen in a remote military garrison about 45 miles from the front. He will be serving the military unit as well as the villagers, and IDPs, ( internally displaced persons) who have escaped the fighting in Donetsk.

We arrived in Zaporhizia, which is about 2 hours west at sundown, and registered at a hotel. Unbeknownst to me of course the rooms had only one hour of power or water, so we cleaned up and walked down the main street to yet another “Irish Bar” for dinner.

Around 11pm. I was awakened by several large explosions that rattled the windows and observed missiles being engaged by the anti aircraft batteries that were probably supplied by the US or NATO. Eventually the “arrivals” subsided and I was able to sleep. We hit the road towards Donetsk at 0600.

Edward and his military escort Oleg met us halfway at another village. As per the usual, we turned off our phones, and no photos were allowed at the base and that close to the front. The village itself was in good shape and Edward was set up in a in old school. We met the command staff and offloaded two wood burning stoves, a 3.2 Kw generator, warm bedding, several teddy bears, fuel, oil, tools, chimeny pipes, hygiene kits and a host of other goods provided by your donations.

After the work party we had lunch with some of the troops, including Edgar, a Ukrainian who was born in Ghana. Oleg and I practiced our language skills with eachother which were both about the same level and Google Translate filled in the gaps. I gave him one of my Border Patrol patches of which there are now several in the hands of Ukraine police and military. We followed eachother on Instagram as well.

All throughout our time there we could hear both incoming and outgoing artillery at the front. We learned that this base is also used as a secondary care point for injured troops and there was a contingent of medics as well.

We said goodbye to our new friends but we will be back. As we passed back through Zaporhizia the Monday morning missile attacks began again all over Ukraine. Preliminary reports state over 80 were fired, of which 70 landed. It would have been worse but just hours before Ukraine staged a drone strike deep inside Russia that damaged some of the long range bombers they were going to use. This is a huge deal here and will be a massive morale booster. Even so, one landed about a mile and a half from us as we were at a stop light, setting off car alarms and shaking the ground. It appeared to be intended for a power plant but hit a residential area killing several civilians as we found out later.

We made it to Dnipro at sundown and I am going to sleep.