A pair of U.S. Army veterans fighting alongside Ukrainian forces were injured in an artillery strike on Wednesday.
Black Rifle Coffee’s “Coffee Or Die” magazine first reported Paul Gray and Manus McCaffery were injured in fighting in the southeastern Ukrainian city of Orikhiv. Gray told the magazine that he and McCaffery were on a mission to take out a Russian tank and were waiting to ambush it when an artillery round landed nearby, injuring the two of them.
Coffee Or Die reporter Nolan Peterson tweeted a photo of the two Army veterans and McCaffery’s injuries after the artillery strike.
The artillery strike caused serious shrapnel wounds to McCaffery’s face, head, shoulders and torso. It also toppled a concrete wall, which fell on Gray’s left foot and momentarily trapped him.
A video originally posted to Twitter on Wednesday purports to show either Gray or McCaffery being carried away by fellow fighters.
“Manus is really bad…I’m sick about it,” Gray told Coffee Or Die. He said he was about five feet from McCaffery when the artillery round landed. “I couldn’t help him because a concrete wall fell on my legs. He remained talking the whole time. Extremely hard young man.”
McCaffery, 20, reportedly served in the US Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment and deployed to Afghanistan. Gray served 101st Airborne Division and deployed to Iraq three times. Both men had left the military and were civilians when they volunteered to fight in Ukraine. The two men were working with Ukrainian special forces to help target enemy tanks with U.S.-donated Javelin anti-tank missiles.
Another, more graphic video, appears to show the two riding in an ambulance, with a medic tending to the injured McCaffery.
As of Wednesday, Gray and McCaffery were both still hospitalized at an undisclosed location in Ukraine. Gray told Coffee or Die that doctors had operated on McCaffery to remove shrapnel, but it was unclear if he would suffer any long-term damage to his eyes.
“We were next together this entire deployment. Every minute,” Gray said. “He’s such a great fighter.”
Gray and McCaffery are among any U.S. military veterans who have volunteered to fight in Ukraine against the invading Russian forces.
22-year-old U.S. Marine Corps veteran Willy Joseph Cancel, who had also volunteered to fight alongside Ukrainian forces, was killed earlier this week, according to his family. Cancel is the first U.S. citizen to die while actively fighting in Ukraine since the invasion began. He had been working as a corrections officer after his time in the Marines and then joined a private military contractor that had been looking for volunteers to fight in Ukraine.