US veteran rescued from Russian-occupied territory in Ukraine: ‘We are not abandoning our people’

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Project Dynamo, a group of American veterans and civilians who helped Americans and their allies flee Afghanistan and Ukraine, rescued the retired sergeant. 1st Class Robert “Bob” Platt, Platt’s wife and the couple’s cats from a town northeast of Kyiv on Saturday night.

Platt lived in a city that put him “squarely behind enemy lines with, no joke, Russians in his backyard and tanks parked on his street,” Project Dynamo co-founder Bryan Stern told Fox News Digital.

Officers on the ground planned to evacuate Platt and his family on Thursday, but the team came under Russian artillery fire when they were only five miles from Platt and had to turn back.

“Bob had told me, he said, ‘Look, Brian, it’s too hot in here. You gotta go. Just go. We’ll be in Russian-occupied Ukraine,'” Stern said of his conversations with Platt last week. “And I said, ‘That’s the deal. We don’t leave our people behind, nothing happens. You have two very simple tasks: stay positive and stay alive. Leave the rest to me. “”

Stern and the Dynamo Project team devised a new plan and executed it on Saturday when a window of opportunity opened.

Platt, a veteran of the US Army’s 82nd Airborne Division who served in Operation Just Cause and Operation Desert Storm, and his family were finally taken from their town and driven across the Polish border on Saturday evening.

“To be able to say to a soldier behind enemy lines, ‘We won’t leave you behind.’ And then saving him and not leaving him behind – that’s just brilliant.”

RUSSIA INVADES UKRAINE: LIVE UPDATES

Stern, a veteran and Purple Heart recipient, co-founded Project Dynamo in late August to help Americans and their allies flee Kabul after the Taliban took over Afghanistan.

The group focused its efforts on helping Americans in Afghanistan until January, when it began sending team members to Ukraine as Russia began assembling forces on the border ahead of the invasion.

Over the past few weeks, Project Dynamo has helped 215 people flee Ukraine, including three premature babies and a family of Afghan refugees who settled in Kyiv last year after fleeing Kabul.

Stern said rescue operations have been more difficult in Ukraine because they cannot use planes, but easier because neighboring countries have opened their borders to those seeking refuge.

“It’s truly inspiring to see other countries open their arms for people in need,” Stern said.

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Nearly 3.5 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia’s invasion, including more than two million to Poland and hundreds of thousands to Romania, Moldova, Hungary and other countries, according to the United Nations.

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