“I came here (Ukraine) as a volunteer not expecting to do anything too crazy. It was early March, and I was kind of bouncing from groups volunteers doing medical training, evacuations, and cleanup details. I ended up with a group of Ukrainian men in their 60’s who were ‘cleaning’ the woods of dead soldiers.

We went through the woods north of Kyiv in that group of villages and towns up there picking up bodies for a few days. It was dangerous because of the literal tons of unexplored bombs and shit just literally laying around.

I was never in the army or anything so even being around a grenade kind of makes me nervous lol. But this one day, we probably gathered 30 bodies in an area three times the size of a standard football field. They all had that orange striped ribbon around it.

It was still cold then, so the bodies didn’t stink too bad. But it gave me a new perception on ‘what is a lot’. Is 10 a big number? It is if that’s the number of bodies you’ve got stacked in a truck. I don’t know what happened to the bodies. I was told they were buried. I was also told they were put in frozen meat lockers to be sent back to Russia.

For all I know they were dumped in a ditch somewhere and to be thought about more after the war is over. All I know is I saw a lot of young dead faces that I don’t think needed to die. Again. I’m not a soldier. Not a vet. Just a guy who wanted to help. I did zero amount of fighting.”

-‘J. Jordy’ Western Volunteer. Kyiv suburbs. March, 2022.

Documented by Battles and Beers: War Stories