MOUNTLAKE TERRACE, Wash. — A U.S. Army veteran has returned home to Mountlake Terrace after five and half months of being on the frontlines in Ukraine, where he was alongside Ukrainian soldiers fighting against the Russians.
Carl Larson has learned to appreciate the little things in life after many close calls on the frontline.
"I pulled this little concentrated piece of Russian evil out of the wall, this is shrapnel from the artillery shell that killed him and almost killed me and so I realized at that point how lucky I am," said Larson.
Unfortunately, this isn't the first traumatic story he's told about losing a friend in combat. Larson served in the U.S. Army from 2001 to 2004, which included fighting in Iraq. He suited up again in early March, fighting against the Russians alongside soldiers in Ukraine before returning home in August.
"It's only afterwards the adrenalin fades out and you realize 'Good lord I came awful close',” said Larson. “I had numerous close calls like that and I saw death up close and personal."
So why did Larson fight in a war for another country halfway around the world? He believes it's about freedom and democracy.
"They're fighting with guns and tanks and missiles, we're fighting with votes and our opinions, but it's the same fight and so I felt like I had to go over there directly to help them," said Larson.
Despite returning from the battlefield, he's still in the fight here at home. He created an organization called Ukraine Defense Support, which focuses on supporting Ukraine’s efforts and helps recruit other volunteers to go overseas to do what they can to help.
"We've raised $58,000, we've sent all together 17 vehicles over two months, we've sent seven generators,” said Larson. “We've sent about $8,000 of cold weather equipment and let me tell you, they really need."
Larson said he's honored to have fought for Ukraine and hopes his experience will bring awareness to the war.
"This is America's fight, whether we know it or not," he said.