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Central Texas man helps coordinate evacuations of friends from when he lived in Ukraine

Even before the invasion happened, Aaron Pluto was helping people inside of Ukraine. Now after the war started, he's been working on getting people out.

CEDAR PARK, Texas — For anyone with loved ones in Ukraine, it's been a hard few weeks.

"We got the Sandifords, missionaries in Ukraine that have been there for 11 years they're now evacuated," explained Aaron Pluto. "We have to be concerned with how we communicate."

Pluto is one of those people who is all too connected to Ukraine. Pluto lives in Cedar Park and served in the Air Force and the Army. During that time he was in both Russia and Ukraine.

"I worked in an advisory role at the U.S. embassy in Kyiv back in 2014," he said. "I've got a friend with a little baby right now that's been in her basement for 10 days, and her husband's out, manning checkpoints. It gets to be emotional because this hits home because they're my friends."

This is why he's helping friends and others evacuate, getting people rides and coordinating help to get out of the country, where other transportation is too crowded, all while others stay and fight.

"The early interviews say they're fighting like lions," he said. "They're not fighting like lions; they're fighting like people who are defending their homes." 

They're defending their homes and protecting their families.

"This is not a Russia versus Ukraine thing. This is a Putin versus Ukraine thing," he said. "Most families have families on both sides of the border. Most Ukrainians speak Russian and Ukrainian. So it's not a black and white thing."

He's doing what he can to protect his friends that are as good as family.

"General Petraeus said years ago Putin's going to push and push and push until he comes up against something solid," he said. "Ukrainians are pretty solid and looks like they're providing some pretty stiff resistance."

Pluto said if you would like to help, the best way he thinks is to donate directly to the Ministry of Defense. Or you can donate to Save Our Allies.

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