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Idahoan returns home after distributing supplies in Ukraine

"I don't believe they're ever going to let Russia conquer them," Jerry Jacques said. "Russia might occupy their country, but these people will never be conquered."

TWIN FALLS, Idaho — An Idaho man arrived back to the Gem State on Friday after spending the past few weeks in Ukraine. 

Images circulating around the United States of Russia's invasion of Ukraine are what Jerry Jacques saw on a daily basis while in the country.

"I guess the hardest thing is, it's hard to believe that the Russians are targeting civilian infrastructure and civilians," Jacques said. "That's what's just mind boggling."

Jacques splits his time between living in Twin Falls and Alaska, but he recently traveled to Ukraine to help teach a class that ended up getting canceled.

After the class was canceled, Jacques discovered Salomon Smith, an American collecting supplies such as food, bullet proof vests and medical equipment in Poland to take to Ukraine.

"Then [Soloman] would pick up refugees and get them back to Poland, on the way back out," Jacques said.

After learning about the work being done to support Ukrainians, Jacques joined Soloman's mission.

"I felt a real calling to see what I could do to help the Ukrainian people," Jacques said. "Some of my ancestors came from Ukraine and Poland that settled in Canada."

While lending a helping hand was an admirable and rewarding decision, Jacques said seeing the war up close was an emotional experience. 

"Probably one of the most emotional nights of my life -- at 2-2:15 in the morning last Saturday -- the air raid sirens went off and we wound up finding our way down into the bomb shelters or World War II bomb shelters," Jacques said. "I got to interact with quite a few of the Ukrainians that were stuck in the bomb shelter with us basically all night. We didn't get out till about 6:15 in the morning … Even the Ukrainians are shocked that the Russians are basically attacking their brothers and sisters -- as they call them -- from just across the border."

Jacques is heartbroken with what is happening in Ukraine, but said it was one of the most-rewarding things he has ever done.

"The Ukrainian people are so incredible," Jacques said. "Here these people have, some of them have, lost everything and they were more concerned with my comfort than their own needs. "They're just a hearty, strong, stubborn, incredible people.

"I don't believe they're ever going to let Russia conquer them. Russia might occupy their country, but these people will never be conquered."

Jacques said he is physically exhausted from his 52 hours of travel, but is even more exhausted mentally from what he witnessed.

He added Smith -- who Jacques teamed up with -- has been in Ukraine for five weeks collecting supplies and moving them into orphanages and hospitals. 

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