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Ukraine war volunteers are coming home, reckoning with a brutal fight

A Marine Corps veteran who volunteered to fight in Ukraine took cover behind walls as Russian gunfire punched through and felt the throttle of artillery so many times that his catchphrase, "It's normal," became a joke within the unit.

He said that what wasn't expected was the feeling of dread while he hid and listened as Russian attack helicopters strafed the position his team had just fled. That moment "was quite honestly the most unsettled I had been the entire time," he said.

Dakota, who is home in Ohio now after seven weeks of fighting, is among scores of volunteers who have taken up arms against Russia. Like others, he spoke on the condition that his full name not be disclosed, citing concerns for his safety and family and friends.

In interviews with The Post, foreign fighters from the U.S. and elsewhere described the disparities between what they expected the war to be like and what they experienced.

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