WARREN, Mich. (WXYZ) — It was the sound heard around the world. On Feb 24. Just minutes after Vladimer Putin announced a special military operation in Ukraine, explosions and devastation struck the people in Kyiv.
It was that day, M. Dujon Johnson says he decided to go overseas to fight.
“I’m going to help to defend the country,” says Johnson.
In three days, Johnson will start his journey to war-torn Ukraine. The Army Veteran who is now an educator has lived everywhere from China to Germany.
Johnson says he feels a special connection to Ukraine after living there for two years with the peace corp. His mission, to help build their democracy, and now he feels compelled to protect it.
“I'm going as a person who is practicing what they are preaching about the values that the free world espoused such as freedom democracy and the ability to make your own choices,” says Johnson.
Now 62, Johnson wouldn’t be the person most people would expect to volunteer to combat in Ukraine.
“So you are an American, an African American going to Ukraine to fight for their country? Yes.”
Johnson says it’s because of his black experience in American that he connects to the people of Ukraine. Comparing the civil rights movement, to Ukrainians battle for equality.
“I do humans rights work and civil rights work domestically, it’s just an extension domestically to globally,” says Johnson.
Johnson is now preparing for a tough road ahead, but he is confident his story will not end in Ukraine.
“The intention is not to be in a cold ground somewhere, it’s to come back,” says Johnson.
A growing number of American Veterans are volunteering to fight in Ukraine, after its president called for an international legion to recruit foreign fighters. Johnson believes no one is free, until everyone is free.