BURLINGTON, Connecticut — Dennis Diaz served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan with the U.S. Marines. Now, he is suiting up to serve under a different flag.
The 39-year-old veteran from Burlington is one of about 3,000 Americans who have volunteered to fight for Ukraine as part of the International Legion, a volunteer foreign military unit created on the request of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to fight in the Russian invasion.
Diaz told FOX61 News that freedom is worth fighting for no matter what flag is waived.
“I’m ready to roll,” he said. “Whatever I have to bring, I’m going to pack it up and we’re going to take care of business. I cannot wait.”
Diaz is no stranger to war. He enlisted in the U.S Marines in 2000 and saw combat in Iraq and Afghanistan as a specialist in both urban warfare and humanitarian efforts under live fire. He was honorably discharged from the military in 2004.
"As a United States Marine combat veteran, I cannot just sit here and watch it on the news and do nothing about it. I stand up for what’s right," Diaz explained.
Diaz showed FOX61 his paperwork from the Ukrainian consulate. He is signed up and now is gearing up.
"War is 90% mental, 10% physical," he remarked.
Diaz said he believes Ukraine’s independence is indirectly tied to American freedom and supports the country’s acceptance into NATO. He also believes the U.S. should engage militarily.
As he continues to wait for a phone call from the Ukrainian consulate to give him further instructions, Diaz is practicing shooting, exercising and spending quality time with his four children.
“I just talked to the kids and said, listen, I might go to war and you guys already know I might not come back. They are like daddy you are fighting for what’s right so if that’s what it takes, at least we know you gave it everything you got,” he said. “The Diaz family does not play around.”
The father of four expects to travel to Poland before crossing the border into Ukraine. The only thing Diaz was told was that he would be supplied with weapons once he arrives.
Diaz said he knows the price of freedom is often paid for blood and he is prepared to lose his life in the fight for freedom.
"I know that it is part of the job and I’m going to go out there and give it everything that I’ve got," he said.
Matt Caron is a reporter at FOX61 News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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