Breaking News
More () »

Lumberton man reflects on time spent in Ukraine as 1 year anniversary of Russian invasion nears

TJ Rodman, of Lumberton, spent a month in Ukraine, working with non-profits to bring supplies from Kyiv to the frontlines.

LUMBERTON, Texas — President Joe Biden swept unannounced into Ukraine on Monday to meet with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy days before the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion.

On Tuesday, Biden returned to the Polish castle where he spoke shortly after the invasion began, saying the war had hardened Western resolve to defend democracy around the globe.

He warned that there were “hard and bitter days ahead,” but pledged that the United States and its allies would “have Ukraine’s back” as the war enters its second year.

A Lumberton man is using the anniversary to reflect on his time spent in the Ukraine.

TJ Rodman says the anniversary is another sign that Ukraine is not giving up, and Biden's visit is the ultimate sign of support.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: While TJ Rodman is currently a 12News employee, he was not acting as an affiliate of 12News when he went to the Ukraine.) 

"One of the things that still sticks in my mind, is I watched a 19-year-old kid die from an arm wound, watched him just bleed out, right there in front of everybody," Rodman said. 

Rodman spent a month in Ukraine, working with non-profits to bring supplies from Kyiv to the frontlines.

"No one ever prepares you for what it's like when you start hearing bullets go by," Rodman said.

Rodman's group caught wind of an abandoned elderly home and started evacuating patients.

After a drop-off, they came face to face with Russian forces.

"Three rounds go by, and then I saw a plume of dust come off of a wall and the next thing I know, I'm laying down," Rodman said. "I'm sitting up and my whole world, it was just fire, everything was on fire, I was screaming and they had someone cover my mouth."

Rodman caught a ricochet bullet in the chest. He says it was about half an inch away from hitting me in the neck. 

Shortly after, Rodman returned home to Southeast Texas.

"It was the dumbest thing I've ever done, but also the most rewarding thing I've ever done," Rodman said. 

Now a year later, the trip still gives him anxiety, but he's glad he went.

"We've been through enough hurricanes and we've seen how our community can come together, we've seen how other communities have come together to help us, why cant we as a community come together to help other humans that are suffering needlessly when we have the capability or capacity to help them," Rodman said. 

Also on 12NewsNow.com...

Before You Leave, Check This Out