EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – El Pasoan Sara Hernandez held back tears as her son, Alex Ortiz’s dog tags hung from her neck as she spoke with KTSM 9 News from her kitchen.

Her son, a U.S. Marine Veteran, went to Ukraine to fight against Russian forces in beginning of March where he signed a contract to fight with the Ukrainian Army. His parents say he injured by a shrapnel from a rocket in April, four days before his 25th birthday.

Alex Ortiz, Courtesy Sara Hernandez

Hernandez shared one of the last voice messages she received from her son.

“Hopefully nothing bad happens but if it does you know, it would be like that you know, I love you with all my heart though, take care of all my siblings and stay strong for them,” said Alex Ortiz.

Ortiz’s parents flew to Kyiv the capital of Ukraine to locate their son who was in a hospital fighting for his life.


“To be honest with you I couldn’t recognize him usually my son is like around 160 pounds my son was probably maybe 70 to 80 pounds, he’s missing an eye, there’s a scar right here, he has his head bandaged due to the trauma to his brain,” said Sara Hernandez.

Recalling what it was like being in the capital as the war against Russia and Ukraine continues

“I kept on telling my husband when the air sirens would go off or something, if something happens to me just put me in the hospital next to my son,” said Sara Hernandez.

Since going to see their son, Ortiz has been transported to a hospital in Germany by the Ukrainian Army. Their goal is to bring him home, they have been told it will cost them around $300,000 to fly him back to the U.S. on a air ambulance plane that is ICU equipped. The family set up a GoFundMe to bring him home.

Sara Hernandez with her son Alex Ortiz in Ukraine


“The VA has said that they couldn’t help us, organizations, different organizations have said they couldn’t help us because he went on his own accord, even the United States government has said you are on your own,” said Cruz Hernandez, Alex Ortiz’s Step Father.

As we reported back in February of this year President Biden warned Americans to leave Ukraine.

The State Department issued an advisory as well, warning U.S. Citizens “will not be able to evacuate U.S. citizens in the event of Russian military action anywhere in Ukraine.” 

Ortiz’s parents have mixed emotions over their son’s choice to fight for the Ukrainian people.

“I would beg him to come back, please don’t go, please Alex, I’m begging you please don’t do this,” said Sarah Hernandez, Alex Ortiz’s mother… “My initial response was I understand why you want to go and admire you for that, I don’t recommend you go, but I have to support you,” said Cruz Hernandez.

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