A veteran from Orange County says, despite losing his eye during a Russian attack, he does not regret volunteering as a combat medic in Ukraine.
“We get ambushed. We started getting hit on both sides of the vehicle with machine gun fire," explained Giovanni Roman.
Roman was an infantry sergeant in the Marines, and corpsman in the Navy but this unit he volunteered for was clearing a trench in Eastern Ukraine.
Roman was able to vividly recount the experience that led to the loss of his eye.
“As I am fighting shooting out the window, the Russians shoot a rocket at our vehicle. I just remember feeling the impact and the heat on my face. I couldn’t see anything. My face was on fire.”
He says it was pitch black during the attack on Valentine’s Day.
“One of our Ukrainians was ejected from the vehicle. I saw the blood hitting the floor of the Humvee. I knew that was my own blood and I started throwing up.”
Roman says the unit finally makes it out to a Ukrainian hospital. He recalled having his clothing removed and how vulnerable he felt in the moment before he passed out and woke up hours later.
“One of the nurses through a translator told me I lost my eye. I still have shrapnel in my right hand. I have a skull fracture. I had an epidural brain bleed," Roman explained.
He was stuck in Ukraine until he finally made it home on March 27th and went straight to the ER at an undisclosed hospital.
And this was the second time Roman went to Ukraine since the war started.
As for his motivation for why he would risk his life fighting overseas?
“Why? Because we have it so good here thank God. And on the other side of the world one country just decided we’re taking this country, this is ours. And they’re bombing civilians, they’re bombing normal people like us. I can’t sit here watching it from good life here with my mom, my family," Roman said.
So, he left his job as an emergency room technician in Orange County, bought thousands of dollars battlefield medical supplies for any soldier who may get injured and a plane ticket.
Roman has had two surgeries with more on the way.
“The first surgery they removed my eye. Put some plates to hold together. Second surgery readjusted the plates and tried clean up some of the area where my eye was and remove some shrapnel. I was just told that it’s going to take a while because I’ve developed an infection. So I’m not going home for a while. I am a little bummed out.”
To help, you can donate to Giovanni Roman's GoFundMe.