TYLER, Texas (KLTV) – A U.S. Army veteran from Tyler is recovering from battle wounds sustained fighting alongside Ukrainians against Russian forces.
U.S. Army veteran, Purple Heart recipient and Tyler native, Paul Gray fought from the front lines in Ukraine where he was recently injured.
In 2020, he took an extended vacation in Eastern Europe. He loved it so much that he decided to split his time between East Texas and Eastern Europe.
“I joined a foreign legion here, the foreign legion of Georgia, before the war started, I was helping to train Ukrainians, then when the war started, I went to work for the Ukrainian army in a way as a special forces unit they have,” Paul Gray mentioned.
Prior to the invasion, Gray trained Ukrainian militias in basic infantry skills, including forming squads and teams, hand signals, moving as a unit, basic rifle marksmanship, and radio communications.
On the day of the invasion, he received a call from his military unit around 5:30 a.m. to join them to help defend kyiv.
“I have a military background, so I thought it was kind of a moral obligation to help defend Kyiv and this country, and so I was happy to volunteer,” Gray said.
Gray says Ukrainians are facing the reality of their war-torn country. He says they are very patriotic people who fully support the army.
“It’s really inspiring to see so many people put their lives on hold and support each other. I saw civilians giving everything they had to the soldiers. Everybody is trying to raise money for their brothers, for their fighting dads,” Gray said.
In mid-April, Gray was sent to a state in southern Ukraine where he was on the front lines fighting Russian forces. During the fight, a Russian artillery shell hit directly where he and fellow fighter Manus McCaffrey were.
“He’s had a lot of head and torso damage, but he’s recovering really well,” Gray said. “He’s a great guy. I just hurt my leg. I suffered shrapnel and debris damage in this mortar attack – an artillery attack.
He used this time to recuperate, let his leg heal, and help his unit get the supplies they need.
“Every day I focus on what I need to do to get back to mission status and help myself just for when I get back into combat and be ready,” Gray said.
Gray plans to be back in action by the end of the month. In the meantime, he is helping the National History Museum of Ukraine organize an exhibition on foreign fighters in Ukraine.
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