Nebraska state senator spends Fourth of July in Ukraine
State Sen. Tom Brewer has been in Ukraine since June 26.
OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - While the U.S. celebrated its independence, a Nebraska State Senator was getting a closer look at a country fighting to retain that status.
6 News has been in touch with State Sen. Tom Brewer of Gordon, located about 46 miles east of Chadron, while he is in Ukraine on a mission trip, where he has been able to observe military actions happening there.
Brewer has been in Ukraine since June 26. While his first mission to Ukraine was for pure humanitarian assistance, his second mission was intended to be about fielding equipment but was diverted.
“Unfortunately, the equipment did not arrive in the Ukraine which causes (them) to divert to a third mission, which has been essentially trying to get the ground truth on what’s happening here,” he told 6 News on Wednesday.
Brewer, a veteran who earned two Purple Hearts, said the destruction he has seen in Ukraine is unlike anything he saw during his six deployments in Afghanistan, where he was seriously wounded.
“I believe that we should be committing more people and resources over here,” he said. “Maybe not active-duty military personnel, but I think contractors that would be helping train Ukrainians and to do after-action reviews on all the lessons learned would be invaluable and would save American lives in the future.”
Brewer said he wanted to make the trip not only because he is a veteran, but also to witness history. He also said he thought U.S. troops would eventually be fighting the Russians themselves at some point.
“I think I have unique skill sets and life experience to help, and there is history that’s happening here,” he said.
He said he has seen a burning hate for the Russians from those who have seen their people killed and homes burned.
“They have several burning issues; one is no matter what the rest of the world thinks, they are not going to give up ground to the Russians. They do not want to cease-fire and lose part of the Ukraine to the Russians; they will fight to the end,” he said. “They are grateful to those who have given food money and weapons to sustain the Ukraine through the war. All males between the age of 18 and 60 are required to stay in the Ukraine and are being used to help augment their arm forces, (but) one-quarter of all of those in uniform in the Ukraine are women — they have performed magnificently against an army that was to believe to be a professional, powerful army, and has turned out to be essentially a group of terrorists in military uniforms.”
Brewer said he has seen U.S.-provided weapons on the ground there, noting that many Ukrainians fighting the Russians aren’t trained on the weapons they’re using.
“There are many new systems coming into the Ukraine,” he said. “The ones that have been the most effective have been the HIMARS rocket launcher, the M777 canon, and the French Cesar field artillery gun. Most of the training they receive is on-the-job training — maybe only one member the unit will go for formal training. He will have to come back and train the rest, but they’re making it happen.”
Brewer said Wednesday he was at the eastern front and has heard nearby rocket attacks. There’s no way to travel around the country without being in some sort of danger, he said.
“I think if you’re in any of the major cities you have a threat all of the towns that I have been in of any size have been attacked, and at least once while I’ve been there,” he said. “Last night, four rockets hit within 100 meters of the hotel that I’m currently in. ... We are on the Eastern front now, and every time we move forward to the locations where the Ukrainian army is located, you are within our artillery range of the Russians. So it is simply a matter of focusing on getting the mission done and not worrying about the risk.”
He said the U.S. government didn’t assist with his travel, noting that he attempted to visit the U.S. Embassy while he was there, but no one was available.
“I have been totally disappointed in the United States government and the State Department,” he said. “They have referenced me to a website where I did a form. I attempted to visit the embassy no one was available except a security guy who said we shouldn’t travel in Ukraine. So as far as I’m concerned, the United States State Department is useless to people traveling in the Ukraine.”
While out of the country, Brewer said he is continuing to monitor developments in Nebraska, particularly in regards to a potential special session on an abortion bill.
Watch the full conversation with State Sen. Brewer
Copyright 2022 WOWT. All rights reserved.