I didn’t know Sasha Kuvshynova. And I will never, but she sounded like a strong, amazing, young woman.
Her role was that of a young, enthusiastic Ukrainian woman who helped Fox News to report on the unprovoked Russian invasion in her country. This is what Vladimir Putin refers to as “special military operations”, one of many deadly takeovers that he might consider. She was also one of three foreign journalists who were killed in Ukraine.
Oleksandra Kuvshynova, a veteran Fox cameraman and Fox photographer, died last week in a shooting accident during the Russian invasion of Ukraine’s capital. Kuvshynova, a vibrant 24-year-old, was fondly remembered for her love of music, local nightlife, and Zephyr, her cat.
She loved to take photos with her cell phone, especially when playing with light, flowers, and shining waters. Instagram photos show her soft smile, often with long hair that falls across one eye.
Sasha fell in love with Italy’s beauty and cuisines while on a trip to Italy last year. She even took photos of the food being cooked. She said, “Falling into Harmony.” Then she said, “If I ever have a daughter, I will certainly call her Florence.”
Sasha’s posts became political in February. She stated that she wanted to share the story of Ukraine with the rest of the world. She said that it was not about Ukraine wanting Russia to join her, but about Putin wanting Ukraine to join her.
She called herself online “self-employed,” but she was what Fox News calls a consultant for several weeks. A local hired to have knowledge about a country and city and help foreign correspondents gather information in another dangerous foreign location they’ve parachuted into.
These “consultants” are part of almost every U.S. news agency. These “consultants” are invaluable friends in the often dangerous job of reporting from foreign lands.
Over the years, I have known many Sasha Kuvshynovas from around the globe. American news doesn’t often feature these dedicated, professional guides, translators, and scouts.
These people are often lifesaving and vital off-camera journalists. Americans can watch the dangerous world from their couches, free of artillery or sniper fire. The remote control is always at our disposal if the scenes become too frightening. On the streets of Ukraine, there are no remote controls for changing channels.
In the 20-year war in Afghanistan, thousands of these people were employed by the American military and diplomats. They provided guidance, advice, interpretation, and protection to foreigners in exchange for a small salary and the chance to escape to the country they came from.
Some of them were evacuated by news operations and conscientious organizations. The Taliban then quickly overtook the country to exact revenge and impose their brand of hard faith.
Joe Biden famously stated that he would evacuate all Americans and allies who wished to flee. Of course, he didn’t. He decided to cancel the evacuation too early a second time. That Biden promise was just one of many lies the U.S media are ignoring because he isn’t the hated Republican Donald Trump.
Biden betrayed thousands upon thousands of loyal locals and their families, who had placed their faith in hard work, loyalty and shared danger and implicit or explicit promises from American and allied coworkers. These unarmed souls are still around, but Biden and his media have moved onto more important, timely, and colorful stories that don’t tarnish America’s national honor.
They must not be captured unless they are already captured.
Most Americans share that we are generous and have kind hearts. We let our massive government fail and that causes too many people to lose their lives. In South Vietnam, the U.S. ambassador panicked and delayed evacuation plans. This caused panic and left too many people behind.
There were thousands of other allies we left behind, and they too were sent to communist reeducation camps. Or worse.
Two ‘Sashas” were part of my news agency’s Saigon bureau. They accompanied correspondents to the field for several days, covering the deteriorating security and tragic human situations. It was dangerous because the Vietcong didn’t want their story told, and the South Vietnamese military felt betrayed. They might even misdirect you into danger.
We flew from Camranh Bay on Sunday. We found ourselves in a chaotic area with thousands fleeing north. My interpreter managed to wrangle a car from an airport manager in exchange for his wife and daughter flying to Saigon that evening. We spent the entire day interviewing people and gathering information about the panic back in Saigon, 200 miles away.
One family described the 300-mile walk on foot as their third most difficult in recent years. Their baby died on the second day after they left Danang. They hear the enemy firing close behind. Do they abandon the baby in the woods and let him wander in eternity, or do they take the time to bury him in order to make the sure journey to Heaven?
One time, I suggested that we interview soldiers. My Sasha knew better. They were actually marauding deserters who were soon firing automatic weapons in the sky to convince refugees to give up their meager possessions.
For the day, I hired a Thai driver-interpreter to take me to Cambodia, where the Khmer Rouge was on a murder spree. I asked him to choose a restaurant so that I could buy him lunch. The roofless shell of an abandoned roadside home he chose was one that my wife wouldn’t approve of.
His noodle soup arrived as he continued to describe his family and future career goals. While he talked, he sipped from the broth and watched a few silverfish swim around.
We could hear gunfire from Cambodia at the border. But our greatest danger was the working elephants that were gliding along the highway. He drove me another day to an American base, where our assistant in Cambodia’s family had been evacuated without any belongings.
My assistant found clothing stores and negotiated the prices. This was my first purchase of underwear for Asian women.
Later, Guam saw more than 120,000 Vietnamese refugees settle in a massive tent city. It even had its own Zipcode. I was also responsible for reporting on that news. My job was to locate the Saigon Sashas who had fled their families and to help them get to the U.S. to start new lives and find jobs.
After an exhaustive search, I couldn’t find them. Later, while interviewing immigration clearing center officials, I heard familiar voices. They were there, and they didn’t need any help from me. They used their American knowledge and bilingual skills to get into the lives of the harried officials who were trying to address the chaos.
My employer is to be commended for taking great care of the displaced local assistants. He provided them with apartments and jobs and counseling when the new culture and freedoms created tensions in men and women. These were, however, success stories.
The invasion of Ukraine is not. I have found solace and perspective over the years in reminiscing for readers the small details of people’s lives that are intertwined in larger events. Surrogate mothers share their inner feelings to help childless couples become parents. The child’s shock at seeing Mount Rushmore. An old Nazi helmet worn by a Belgian farmer explains how it feels to raise dairy cows in a vast field. This is because of the Battle of Waterloo.
I was stunned by the shocked expressions on the faces of Vietnamese refugees who had just asked me what an Easter bunny did. There was a long pause. One grandpa asked, “Exactly how big are American rabbits?”
The little Vietnamese girl squatted on the roadside with her family, who claimed that being a war refugee once again didn’t scare her. She smiled and vomits in the dirt.
Oleksandra “Sasha”, Kuvshynova’s tale is different. Over my 55 years of professional experience, I have met thousands of ordinary and famous people. The latter is my favorite, with few exceptions.
I have covered a variety of stories, including the mundane, shocking, bloody, and exciting, as well as happy, sad, boring, tragic, and every day. It was strangely troubling to me that I was going through the social media posts of an embalmed young woman.
Sasha was full of energy, curiosity, and had her whole life ahead of herself, but all that was wiped out by the territorial ambitions of a ruthless, male-female autocrat. He didn’t know anything about her. Now you know.
Sasha’s cell photo of a bedroom with bright sunlight coloring the wooden floor was one of her last entries. She wrote, “Always in Sun”.
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