Most college students who go abroad spend their junior year in Paris, London, Madrid, or some other posh international capital.
However, Alexis Antilla, 28, a biology student from Dallas who attends Columbia University in New York City, has traded the comfort of an Ivy League classroom for fighting on the front lines in Ukraine.
“I first decided to go to Ukraine when I saw 40 kilometers of tanks rolling towards Kiev,” Antilla explained. “Something in me said, ‘I have to go.’ As an American, the one thing I value most is my freedom, and the Ukrainian people are currently seeing their freedoms being trampled by the Russians. And I felt inspired to do something.
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This resulted in four tours of duty on the battlefield, which included serving as a combat medic, helping load shells for howitzers, and firing anti-tank weapons such as the Javelin and NLAW. She was injured last year when her vehicle hit a land mine, and helped save the life of a wounded Ukrainian colleague.
“We were about 10 to 15 kilometers behind enemy lines on a reconnaissance mission when our vehicle hit an anti-tank mine,” he said. The passenger in the front passenger seat was seriously injured and had to have his left leg amputated. “We were able to get him out of the vehicle, get a tourniquet on him, and thankfully everyone else in the vehicle was okay, except for some minor bruises and minor shrapnel wounds,” Antilla said.
Razom for Ukraine, a New York-based nonprofit group providing humanitarian and war relief to the besieged country, helped coordinate the surgery that saved the man’s life. Razom says that part of its mission is to “advocate for a decisive Ukrainian victory, because it is a fundamental security interest for the US and its allies.”
“Rezom has provided hundreds of tons of tactical medical kits, hospital supplies, medicines and communications equipment,” says the group, which notes that support for Ukraine in Washington, DC, is very strong.
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“Members on both sides of the aisle – Republicans and Democrats – are deeply and clearly committed to a victory for Ukraine… Lone or fringe voices can be loud, but not necessarily convincing. Americans of both political parties Leaders are making great efforts to see that Ukraine is ultimately victorious,” Razom noted on his website.
Antilla said she is not afraid when she is on a mission, and while her parents back in Texas worry about her, she said they appreciate her dedication to helping the Ukrainian people defeat Vladimir Putin. understand.
“Putin is scared. He’s sitting in Moscow and carrying out orders, but he doesn’t understand, or at least he doesn’t care, what it’s really like on the frontline,” she said.
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Antilla has a message for Putin.
“Get out of Ukraine, stop trampling on the people’s freedoms, respect the sovereignty of the Ukrainian people, and just do the next right thing,” she urged.
Antilla said she intended to return to Ukraine until Putin’s forces were finally driven out.
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