U.S. Marine Veteran from North Platte injured in Ukranian War, family struggling to bring him home

The family of a U.S. Marine Veteran injured in the Ukranian war is struggling to bring their solider home. His family has set up a GoFundMe to fly him home.
Published: Aug. 22, 2022 at 8:04 PM CDT
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NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) - A Nebraska soldier’s family is on mission to get their marine veteran home from overseas where he’s fighting for his life.

Alex Ortiz was injured while fighting in the ongoing war in Ukraine just days before his 25th birthday. His mother, Sara Hernandez who lives in El Paso, Texas, shared one of her son’s last voice messages.

“One day he called me up and said, ‘mom I’m going to go to Ukraine’ and I said, ‘yeah stop playing around that’s not for me,’ that was the end of February,” Sara said. “‘He said, ‘no mom I am not playing, I purchased a ticket to go over there. I’m going to get the vaccine tomorrow and I’m going,’ and he did.”

Ortiz, a United States Marine Veteran signed a contract in March to fight with the Ukrainian army.

After not hearing from her son, Hernandez knew something was wrong.

As a mom you know when something is wrong with your kids, you feel it,” she said. “I really never knew what they meant by that until I felt it that.”

Ortiz’s mom and his stepdad Cruz Hernandez, flew to Kiev where they found Alex fighting for his life in the intensive care unit at a hospital in Ukraine.

“At first, I didn’t recognize my son,” Cruz said. “As you can imagine when you walk in and see somebody from an angle with no eye it was hard to tell. Not only that, but my son had lost a lot, a lot of weight. He’s almost 6-foot-tall and he usually weighs between 160 to 176 pounds. I would say he was 70 to 80 pounds.”

Alex was transported to a hospital in Germany where is he is recovering while nurses help him communicate with loved ones back at home.

“He told me before he left, ‘the Marines taught me to help the meek and the weak,’” said Alex’s grandmother, Bonnie Murray. “He is a very kind and loving person and he is there for the meek and the weak. He stopped to pet a cat and that’s when a shell hit him.”

His family is doing everything they can to bring their soldier home.

“It wasn’t necessarily about betraying anyone or the country, that’s kind of how they are trying to paint the picture,” said Ortiz’s uncle Keith Hawke. “That wasn’t it at all. He just wanted to help.”

Hawke said his family has even reached out to the State Department for help.

“He went over there on his own accord so they are not giving us any help to bring him back home to get the medical attention he needs,” Hawke said.

Hernandez said the state government has offered to provide a loan to fly Ortiz back. A transport that could cost upwards of $300,000.

“If somebody told you to pay $300,000 so that your kid can live and have the best life you’re going to pay it,” Hernandez said. “As a parent, as a mother, you’re going to do whatever you have to do to get them home.”

The family has set up a GoFundMe to bring Alex home. Their goal is to raise $350,000. So far, they have raised close to $70,000.

Ortiz joined the Marines in Nebraska after graduating from North Platte High School. He was living in Ohio before he went to Ukraine.