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Hometown welcome in order for Project DYNAMO leader and American rescued in Ukraine

The homecoming is not the end of DYNAMO's rescues. They still have crews overseas performing rescues now.

TAMPA, Fla. — More than 200 rescue operations and hundreds of Americans later, the co-founder of Project DYNAMO and their leader on the ground in Ukraine is back home.

"I feel great! I feel great. I've been on the road for 156 days," Bryan Stern said.

His wife, Olivia, and several family and friends waited for him Wednesday at Tampa International Airport. 

Stern has been in war-torn Ukraine since February. Before that, Project DYNAMO was in Afghanistan trying to rescue any Americans left behind by the U.S.

"All these different stories are very sentimental to me because we're there with them!" Stern exclaimed. "I'm not making phone calls coordinating rescues from my house in Florida, we're on the street."

As Russia continues fighting to capture more territories in Ukraine, Stern says the war will get worse before it gets better. More rescues still need to be done.

"Who's coming for these American citizens to help?" Stern asked. "I really want to stay home, but at the same time, it makes my skin crawl knowing that there's Americans out there left behind."

Kirillo Alexandrov, 27, is one of many who needed help. He and his family were arrested and taken captive in late March. 

"Kirillo is an escaped fugitive as we speak from Russian justice," Stern said. "He was not released, we stole him."

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Alexandrov says people next to him were raped, and he saw executions. DYNAMO rescued him in early May.

"I was in captivity 37 days, terrified and in pain," Alexandrov said.

Now knowing he and his family are safe and he's on American soil, he feels safe.

"I still haven't processed it," Alexandrov said. "I'm hoping I go to sleep and I don't wake up in that closet."

That's why Stern and his team stay on the ground. They've rescued nearly 4,000 people since February.

"Every day in Ukraine is like 9/11. I was a 9/11 first responder I know what I'm talking about," Stern said. "These people need help. They're Americans. I am not leaving them behind."

The homecoming is not the end of DYNAMO's rescues. They still have crews overseas doing rescues now. Stern will be back in Ukraine sometime in August.

Project DYNAMO is a nonprofit, so the donations they've gotten have pushed them through and made all of this possible, but they have slowed. They're asking for your help to continue rescuing people in Ukraine and Afghanistan. You can do so here.

RELATED: Tampa-based Project DYNAMO rescues more than 480 people from Mariupol

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