x
Breaking News
More () »

'I'll never forget the sound of a Russian cruise missile': Odessa man returns home from fighting in Ukraine

Jeremy Smith spent 45 days guarding a makeshift base in northeastern Ukraine. During that time, Russian troops were less than two miles away.

ODESSA, Wash. — A man from Odessa who spent more than 40 days on the front lines of THE Ukranian-Russian War is home safe. 

Jeremy Smith left his fiancé and coffee shop back in March and returned home on May 1. Smith says he's still weak from malnutrition, he lost about 20 pounds in 40 days. The base he was protecting had some close calls with Russian artillery and he has the shrapnel to prove it.

"I'll never forget the sound of a Russian cruise missile," Smith explained. "It makes this weird sound that's indescribable and makes the hair stand on the back of your neck. It sounds like it's bending time and space."

Smith spent 45 days guarding a makeshift base in northeastern Ukraine. During that time, Russian troops were less than two miles away.

"We had about 30 rounds impact inside our perimeter,” Smith said. “I had one round impact about 10 meters from me."

He brought home some of the shrapnel to show his fiancé. He flew overseas in March and joined the international foreign legion of Ukraine, well aware that he may never come home. His group of roughly 50 men set up a base in an old industrial area.

"We had guys from Germany, Poland, Estonia," he said. "We could hear the shrapnel ripping through the trees and bouncing off the concrete wall."

Weeks into the trip, Smith got very sick. 

"I contracted COVID and they actually sent me back to Poland because they're like you're too sick, we can't treat you for this here," he said. 

He spent seven days quarantined in a Warsaw hotel. Smith returned to the base a week later, where he remained for several more weeks under the constant threat of attack. He knew he was heading into a warzone but he didn't expect the Ukrainian people to be so resilient and welcoming.

"A lot of people were just going about their daily lives even with shelling going on in the middle of the day,” Smith explained. "I thought they would be kind of standoff-ish to foreigners but when they find out you are with the foreign legion and you are there to help, the next thing you know, I don't smoke but I'm getting cartons of cigarettes handed to me, you know I'm getting water and hugs and kisses."

Smith landed in Spokane exhausted but he’s happy to be home.

"I'll never eat porridge again,” Smith said. “Porridge three times a day, we got a small chunk of whatever the meat of the day was and that was about it, three times a day."

Before he left for Ukraine, Smith promised his fiancé he'd make it home for their wedding in June. It's a promise he's kept.

"It was only 45 days but it was way too long for me," he said.

Jeremy says he does not regret his decision to go to Ukraine. He said he would go back. However, he promised his soon-to-be wife this would be the one and only trip.

Paid Advertisement