Veteran staying in Ukraine despite danger, death

Russia At War

(NewsNation) — A U.S. veteran, husband and father is assisting Ukrainian forces in Lyiv, saying despite the heartbreak of a fellow veteran dying in Ukraine it is his “calling” to go help.

Cody Heard was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army in 2018 but made the decision last month to head to Ukraine.  Heard said the children suffering in Ukraine made him want to go and that it was his “calling.”

“I’m going to keep coming back to help these people. They’re amazing people. My heroes are these small children. They’re carrying backpacks and bags and a lot of weight I would carry as a soldier,” Heard said. “And so little kids are my heroes that are taking care of their mothers and getting them out.”

Heard spoke with NewsNaton amid reports a former U.S. Marine was killed fighting alongside Ukrainian forces.

Rebecca Cabrera told CNN her son, 22-year-old Willy Joseph Cancel, was killed Monday while working for a military contracting company that sent him to Ukraine.

Cabrera said her son was working as a corrections officer in Tennessee and had signed up to work with the private military contractor shortly before the fighting began in Ukraine in late February. She told CNN he agreed to go to Ukraine. Heard said he was heartbroken over Cancel’s death.

“It’s heartbreaking as a fellow veteran. But it definitely did not change my situation. I am coming home in May, at some point to take care of some things. And then I’m coming back to Ukraine,” Heard said.

Heard was asked to sign a contract with the Ukrainian Foreign Legion for the length of the war. He instead joined the territorial defense working with the Ukrainian military. Heard said he has become numb to some of the fighting in Ukraine.  

“When I was in Kyiv there was consistent missile fire when we were there, it was very hectic. But there’s a time when you just kind of become numb to everything,” Heard said.

This comes amid a renewed attack by the Kremlin. Russia pounded targets all over Ukraine on Thursday, hitting a residential high-rise and another building in Kyiv. Heard said his plan is to go back to the United States next month but then return to Ukraine.

“There’s always the fear of not coming back home, but, you know, I’m confident myself, I’m confident in the training I received from the military,” Heard said to NewsNation in March.

This interview was edited for clarity and length.

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