Monday, April 15, 2024

Williamsburg Man Helps Train, Support Ukrainian Fighters

Lance Zaal (Photo/ Lance Zaal)

WILLIAMSBURG — As the war in Ukraine continues, Colonial Ghosts founder Lance Zaal recently embarked on a fourth trip to the war zone in an ongoing effort to support fighters he trained and others he’s met along the way.

Zaal is a Marine veteran who served for four years, as well as having studied international relations. He also worked in the defense sector as a consultant.

Zaal’s first trip to Ukraine was focused on training and supply. He trained 80 civilians to resist invading Russians in March and April of 2022. He supplied them with body armor vests, first-aid kits, and provided night vision optics and other supplies to Alpha GRU, an elite Ukrainian Spetsnaz group.

“My friend that I graduated with from William & Mary MBA program with, Ivan, we had kept in touch since graduating and he is originally from Sevastopol, Ukraine,” Zaal explained. “So I had been keeping up with the news about what had been going on.”

(Photo/Lance Zaal)

Zaal had attempted to hire trainers who had more recent experience than he himself did to come and help but wasn’t able to find anyone after the invasion.

“So, I decided to come and do it myself,” Zaal recalled. “I brushed up on a lot of my skills from my time in the military and I broke out all my old manuals that I kept in storage. I flew over and had the equipment shipped over and I spent about a month in the country where I trained [that first group.]”

For Zaal’s second trip, he ended up bringing more supplies. His third trip was to supply the armies and aviation unit, as well as technicians and drones. On his most recent trip, he brought more supplies for the various units. He is happy to say that the work he has done has saved many lives.

“I’m happy I’m doing what I can to make a difference in such a tragic and historic situation,” Zaal stated.

As he’s made the trips, Zaal has had the chance to meet with representatives of the Ukrainian government, as well as a heroic helicopter pilot who would later be awarded Ukraine’s highest honor, Hero of Ukraine, by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Zaal has spent nearly a quarter of a million dollars to date and continues to seek donations from the public through Ghosts of Liberty to accelerate his efforts. Ghosts of Liberty is a private organization Zaal established to help the public and combat veterans who are looking to support the resistance movement and help citizens in Ukraine fight back. He also notes that if people do not feel comfortable donating to him, then they can donate to the Ukrainian army directly.

“Another way they can help is contacting their senators and representatives at the federal level and urging them to increase the aid to Ukraine,” Zaal commented.

“I think we have to ask ourselves why we should care, especially after campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. Why should we help? Why should we get involved in something else? I think the reason is this is different. We know what happens in history when an evil tyrant demands more land and lives and manipulates and wants more territory. I think there should be no illusion of what is happening in Ukraine,” said Zaal.

(Photo/Lance Zaal)

“I think we know from history what happens when we appease a madman, criminal, and a dictator like Putin. And I think if we don’t do more and if we don’t stop him now it will be American sons and daughters that will be fighting overseas. And at that time we will have already betrayed our friends and we will have sent a message to the entire world that the United States of America runs and is scared,” he added.

Zaal believes that no one deserves to be thrown into such a brutal war, especially in the 21st century, and he encourages everyone to rally to support Ukraine, because he says this is everyone’s fight.

“The men I trained were good people and not fighters; they are photographers, real estate investors, doctors, dentists, and artists — all who rose to the occasion. Some have been killed, others captured, and many others wounded. Their death and pain both saddens and angers me. It’s easy for me to give money when they are forced to fight for their lives and loved ones,” said Zaal.

For more on Zaal please visit his official website.

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