Kyiv (Ukraine): John and Donna Culp, a retired military couple, won’t be making it home to Waynesville, North Carolina, in time for Christmas this year since they have decided to devote their time to help defuse bombs in war-torn Ukraine.
John Culp, a 69-year-old retired United States Army Special Forces lieutenant colonel, has been in Ukraine for eight months with the nonprofit Bomb Techs Without Borders, which is dedicated to preventing deaths by assisting in the removal of landmines, IEDs, and other explosive remnants of war.
As per reports, Culp has returned to the United States only once since his arrival on April 5, in late August, before returning to Ukraine to continue his work with the nonprofit.
His wife, Donna Culp, 68, is a retired Air Force captain and president of the Western North Carolina Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America.
She reportedly visited Ukraine with her husband in July and plans to return this month to help with other nongovernmental organisations that she has been assisting remotely since her last visit.
The couple recently gave an interview to a leading news portal in the United states in which they opened up about their life in Ukraine.
“I didn’t plan on going to Ukraine, however I did after seeing what the Russians were doing, it is thousand times more than what I saw in Bucha, Irpin, and Hostomel, and it’s still going on today,” Donna said in an interview.
“Cities are being destroyed in their entirety, including infrastructure, farming, homes, and schools. It’s ruthless, and it makes no sense, but it has to stop.”
When Culp visited Ukraine in July, she witnessed atrocities firsthand, including the murder of a Ukrainian family in a care in Bucha by the invading Russian forces.
She claimed that three months passed before the bodies could be removed from the car due to the Russian occupation.
According to prior reporting, John Culp started his army career as an explosive ordnance disposal technician.
During this time, he worked with and trained others on the disposal of explosives.
He was Bomb Techs Without Borders’ first person on the ground in Ukraine, and he played an important role in the organization’s success there, according to Bomb Techs Without Borders CEO and Founder Matthew Howard.
“John’s primary mission, in addition to doing the hands-on work and building that relationship, was to grow our network and start connecting with other departments and agencies,” Howard said.
“Now, we’ve got a network of partnerships across Ukraine that give us a lot of people that we can and do work with.” He added.
Donna Culp has begun to help Bomb Techs Without Borders, too, Howard told media. She is spearheading the group’s logistics efforts in Ukraine, he said, as the group looks to bring in specialty equipment for disposal and training.
“As we grow and expand our impact in Ukraine, we are going to be bringing in a lot more specialized equipment and procuring a lot of specialized equipment in Ukraine. We need logistics established so that we can control all these items, make sure they end up in the right place, and combine them with our training programs,” Howard said.
However, Donna Culp is not only involved with Bomb Techs Without Borders. She also stated that she is working with the Moldova World Children’s Fund, which is based in Hendersonville, and Blue/Yellow for Ukraine, which has provided non-lethal supplies to Ukrainian soldiers and volunteers since 2014, according to its website.
“Working with other NGOs is more about how we collaborate together identifying where there are needs, troubleshooting, problem-solving, and figuring out how to get the best results possible,” said Donna culp.
Because of her medical background, Donna Culp said she is also working with a group of other organizations in the country who are addressing medical needs.
The hospitals are “overwhelmed, understaffed, and under supplied” she said in an email sent to US based news portal, and the organizations do what they can to support them.
According to Howard, Bomb Techs Without Border’s work in Ukraine will continue even after the war is over. He said the organisation is collaborating with a group from the University of Maryland that has studied satellite data of craters where Russian artillery struck in Ukraine, and that study has revealed that a large number of explosives have entered the country.
“I’m not sure how many square kilometres it is, but it is far from all of the territories that have been fought over, and they had identified well over a million craters,” Howard said.
“If we assume, as we do in explosive ordnance disposal, we assume roughly a 10% dud rate, that means just from artillery bombardments that created those craters, you’ve got over a 100,000 UXO, the unexploded ordnance left over.”
He added that this figure does not include landmines, booby traps, or ammunition from destroyed vehicles, ammo supply depots, or firing positions.
He claimed that the organization’s collaboration with the organisations and agencies in Ukraine has directly exposed the financial and human costs of removing these explosives.
“What drives John, me, and the other volunteers from Bomb Techs Without Borders is our desire to support other bomb technicians and de-miners by keeping them alive and providing them with the training, equipment, and knowledge they require to survive and become the best bomb technicians and de-miners in the world,” Howard explained.
Read all the Latest News, Trending News, Cricket News, Bollywood News,
India News and Entertainment News here. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.