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'He just had a big heart': Boise veteran and humanitarian remembered after being killed in Ukraine

Nick Maimer was a former U.S. Special Forces member, he was reportedly killed earlier this week in Eastern Ukraine.

BOISE, Idaho — It has been more than a year since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. While the war is on the other side of the globe, the fallout has been felt worldwide - including in Idaho.

Nick Maimer, a 44-year-old veteran from Boise, was reportedly killed in Eastern Ukraine earlier this week. 

Maimer was a former U.S. Special Forces member who went to Ukraine when the war started to help evacuate citizens and provide aid. 

While in Kiev, he met Perry Blackburn, founder of AFG Free - a nonprofit volunteer group that perform evacuation operations and humanitarian aid services. 

"We just saw an opportunity to help the citizens of Ukraine that were embattled, and were really encased in the conflict," Blackburn said. 

The two former Green Berets began working together, something Maimer talked about during a Facebook video last year. 

"Our primary purpose initially was to help evacuations," Blackburn said. "And then it became pretty clear really quick that they needed more in the areas that were controlled by the Russians. You kind of have to understand that once the Russians control an area - there's very little, if any commerce in that area. So being able to get in and provide food, and medical supplies and medicine became our main effort during that time."

Maimer is described as being down-to-Earth, artsy - a local DJ in Boise, and someone always ready to be there for others. 

"He just had a big heart. Nick was one of those guys that you run into very rarely in life, he was willing to do anything for the cause to help someone else," Blackburn said. "And he a was very minimalist type of person, he wasn't looking for fame or fortune. He was actually just the opposite of that."

Maimer had been trying to sell his motorcycle so he could give back more.

A graphic video circulating online shows Russian troops finding a body and going through Nick's IDs - including his Idaho driver's license. That video is how Blackburn, and many others throughout the community, found out that Maimer had died. 

KTVB asked Blackburn how he would like the world to remember Nick Maimer:

"As a great humanitarian. As a guy that wanted other people to be successful. As a guy that was able to work with so many different people, and to just generate energy in his desires to help people," Blackburn said. "He understood that now's the time to give that talent and wisdom back to the younger soldiers and aid workers so that we could help people. He understood really quickly, he was able to decipher that we had to work with, particularly the territorial defense in order to get the humanitarian aid that we needed into the right places - and that required his presence there. He was willing to do that - sacrifice his time, and now his life, in pursuit of helping others."

U.S. Senator Jim Risch put out a statement following the reports of Maimer's death: 

"I am deeply saddened to learn of reports that Nick Maimer was killed in Ukraine. I met with him last summer in Kyiv and remember he had a clear understanding that the Ukrainians are fighting today for what our founding fathers fought for in 1776. In our conversation, it was clear Nick was exceptionally well trained for, and sober about, the realities of the war in Ukraine. He talked about helping evaluate foreign volunteers for Ukraine, but he also knew his particular training could help, and he made the choice to do what he thought was right. May he rest in peace."

A U.S. State Department spokesperson told KTVB they are aware of reports of a death of a U.S. citizen in Bakhmut. They advise that U.S. Citizens shouldn't travel to Ukraine, and that citizens in Ukraine should leave immediately - if safe to do so. 

Blackburn says they're working to get Maimer returned home, and to his final resting place in Idaho.

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