Tip of the Spear Mine Removal Group

Tip of the Spear Mine Removal Group

From Ryan Hendrickson

Raising money for my trip back to Ukraine where I will be doing landmine and boobytrap removal work. I have 8 combat deployments to Afghanistan dealing with IEDs and mines and I want to use my experience to help others.

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This past February, when Russia invaded Ukraine, I felt a calling to do something. I wasn't sure what, but this calling kept getting stronger every day. So finally, in mid-March, I decided to quit my job and head to Ukraine. I am a retired US Army Special Forces Green Beret with Eight combat deployments to Afghanistan, so I wasn't interested in fighting. Instead, I wanted to make a difference in another way. That difference came from a humanitarian mission with a missionary group called YWAM. As a Christian, I believe God's hand has guided me in this endeavor, but I had no idea what to expect. Going in unarmed and helping was a bit different than my standard deployments, but it felt right. I left for Ukraine middle of March and hit the ground running. Whether we were picking families up from areas where the fighting was fierce or delivering food and life-sustaining goods to people who had lost everything, I felt like I had found my calling. But, during my two months in Ukraine, from Bucha, Irpin, Kharkiv, Severodonesks, and other dangerous locations, I saw a cruel reality of war, injuring and killing civilians daily; Landmines and boobytraps. Suddenly things hit close to home. In Afghanistan, I had spent most of my time on combat missions clearing the route of IEDs and mines as my ODA team would move to whichever target we had. I have found many IEDs and landmines during my eight deployments in Afghanistan, but there was one that almost ended everything for me. On Sept 12th, 2010, I stepped on an IED while conducting a clearance operation which almost killed me. After a long but successful rehabilitation, I went back to Afghanistan on seven more deployments so I could do everything in my power to ensure my teammates and my Afghan counterparts never had to go through that pain. While in Ukraine, I saw the dangers these Ukrainian civilians face, and again I felt the calling to do something. I knew I had so much experience from my time in Afghanistan with a mine detector, and I felt like I could be helping these innocent people who were stuck in the middle of the war. So after returning home on May 18th, I immediately started planning my next trip back. This trip will be a humanitarian mission only. I will be doing what I gained a lot of experience doing in Afghanistan, finding and removing landmines and boobytraps. My mission will go into these heavily mined areas to clear and remove these explosive hazards in villages and farming areas so the civilians can safely start to rebuild their lives again. I hope to be partnered with Ukrainian counterparts from the local area where I can do a little training on ground sign awareness, indicators, and other early warnings to keep them safe while also conducting mine removal operations. As Ukrainians return to what's left of their homes and villages, they face these dangers. People have survived the fighting only to now face landmines and boobytraps, injuring and killing civilians daily. Most have lost so much, if not everything, and all the people want to do is to pick the broken pieces of their lives up and move forward.   Ukrainians have been driven by desperation to enter known minefields to fish, gather food, or collect firewood, only to be injured or killed by mines. Farmers working their fields hit landmines in their tractors as they cultivate the ground, and ranchers are grazing their livestock. The Ukrainian military is so bogged down with the war effort that the clearance operations to make these villages safe for civilians often are neglected due to workforce shortages. The ugly fact is this; Ukraine is one of the most heavily mine-contaminated countries in the world and already had significant numbers of mines before the full-scale Russian invasion in February. Both anti-vehicle and anti-personnel mines, trip wire devices, and boobytraps were commonly planted by both Ukrainians and Russians before the intensification of the conflict this year. Moreover, landmines are indiscriminate: they inflict injury and death long after their military purpose has passed and ultimately terrorize the civilian population, cutting them off from using their land. $25,000 is the base cost and will go towards landmine detectors and removal equipment, transportation, mission operating costs, and cost of living. The more money we raise, the more we can expand our demining operations. Proposed dates for the demining mission will be Aug 1st to Aug 31st and Oct 8th to Nov 8th, 2022, if funding is sufficient for two trips. Please be praying and sharing, so this vision can become a reality. Thank you for all of the support! 

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