The 51-year-old Canadian left his job on hold in Ontario and came to Lviv. Volunteer John Yushchenko is a mechanic and helps repair military equipment for the 8oth Airborne Brigade.
The men in the brigade call him Ivan. John has earned the respect of all the soldiers; he flew over ten thousand kilometers to reach Lviv and help the Ukrainian army.
A resident of Sault St. Marie (Ontario, Canada), John Yushchenko told us his story: “I watched all that news from Ukraine … I can’t just stay at home and cry. I can do something. I’m a mechanic back home, and I’m more or less familiar with such equipment. So, I think to myself… why can’t I just buy a ticket and fly over there to help.”
Paratrooper Mykhailo Pandyak is impressed: “What he’s done is 100%. I was amazed when I learnt that he’d taken off work at his own expense to come and help us. I’m really glad that people from other countries want to help out.”
John Yushchenko’s grandparents were from Ukraine. They taught their grandson their native language. John’s wife is from Lviv and she helped him to brush up his Ukrainian before he left.
“I didn’t know where to go and what would happen, or how it would be. I warned my wife, daughter and mother that I didn’t know where I’d end up. Perhaps on the front lines… who knows? My daughter cried, my wife was very worried, and Mom didn’t know what to think. But now they’re glad that I’m here.” explains John.
The soldiers of the 80th Airborne Brigade say that they have learnt a lot from John. He knows a lot, starting from engines to the smallest details. The only thing that the Canadian had to learn was the names of certain tools in Ukrainian.
Mechanic Vasyl Tsiupka: “He drives the machines with us to the training grounds. That’s where the 3rd battalion is currently training. He goes back and forth with us, overtakes us on the way. John is a good man. It’s great working with him. He’s an excellent mechanic.”
John took a month-long holiday, but told his supervisor that he might stay in Ukraine longer if needed.