STOCKTON, Calif. — At 70 years old, a Stockton Marine Corps veteran and former San Joaquin County Sheriff's Deputy of nearly 30 years, Richard Campos, is on a mission after first visiting Ukraine in March through a friend's Slavic non-profit.
"They dropped me off at a church and left me there for about three days, by myself, and of course, no one spoke English," Campos said. "But we got along very well and after a couple of days, I felt like family with them."
But, it wasn't long before hearing the somber sounds of war.
"In the middle of the night, I could hear the children crying and I could hear mothers trying their best to comfort them," Campos said. "Just weeks prior to that, they were sleeping in the comfort of their own home."
Campos was invited to speak with Ukrainian troops on the front lines just a few days later.
"But my question to them was, 'is there anything I could do for you? Is there anything you need, to please tell me,' and the first thing they said to me was, 'tourniquets because our front line soldiers were bleeding out in the field, and not making it back in time to be medically treated,'" Campos said.
So he hit the ground running as soon as he got back to California, starting to collect donations of medical kits, all equipped with their own tourniquet.
"Hopefully, they won't need them but if they do, it's there," Campos said.
It's a story all too familiar to Campos, as a veteran turned humanitarian, he has made more than 35 trips to help in Iraq since 2003.
"Believe me, I'm no hero, I don't see myself as that, at all," he said. "I just see myself as a humanitarian helping another human being. Am I worried about it? Of course, that's in the back of my mind. It's there, the danger is there, but this far outweighs the danger."
Guided by his own forearm tattoo which reminds him daily that 'every man is guilty of all of the good he did not do,' he's still collecting as many tourniquets as possible before heading back on May 15.
"And I'm just really, really looking forward to getting back there and seeing what I could do, seeing the people, talk to them, our presence there, it gives them hope and hope is so powerful, it's such a powerful feeling to know that we haven't forgotten about them," Campos said.
Campos is still collecting donations until May 14. If you'd like to help, you can reach him on Facebook here or email him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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