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Jericho goes to battle for Ukraine

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Jericho Skye Magallon packs his bags in Ojai before a brief send-off ceremony with his family and friends. 

 

Grant Phillips, Ojai Valley News reporter

Jericho Skye Magallon, 26-year-old Ojai resident and former Military Police investigator for the U.S. Army, left March 5 to join the International Foreign Legion of Territorial Defense of Ukraine to fight as a volunteer against the Russian invasion. 

“We have people in a state of emergency, in a state of danger,” said Jericho. “Everybody is standing around in a circle, watching this little country get brutalized, get murdered. I’m not going to be able to stand by and watch that happen, and I’m not going to watch someone go down without support.” 

Stopping to pick up a bulletproof vest for her son on the way to the airport, Jericho’s mother, Alison, dropped him off at LAX on March 5. After a 15-hour flight, Jericho landed in Warsaw, Poland, at 6 p.m. local time March 6, then traveled across the border from Dorohusk, Poland, to join Ukraine’s Foreign Legion. He entered the capital of Kyiv on March 10. 

On March 9, he was sent to the front lines. He provided updates to his family back home via the messaging app, Telegram.

With no U.S. forces in Ukraine, Jericho contacted the Ukrainian Embassy to learn of volunteer opportunities. They provided him with forms where he detailed his four years of military experience and secured the proper documentation. 

“Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, put out a call to all people of the world who are willing to stand and defend Ukraine from this brutal attack,” said Jericho. “I have the extensive training of those four years, training from some of the best warriors in the world, and that’s the U.S. forces.”

Jericho has several generations of family in Ojai and leaves behind his mother; his son, Kiran Sage; his former partner and mother of his child, Erika; and several siblings. 

“Nobody wants their loved one to go to war. I have a son. I don’t want my son going to war,” said Jericho. “But when we’re watching somebody being attacked, somebody has to stand up and defend them. I apologize for the emotional discomfort I’m going to put my family and friends through, but on the other side of that discomfort is families being bombed, being thrown out of their houses. It’s trying to hold on to the larger picture of what’s occurring.”

The decision has been hard on his mother, who lost her eldest daughter and Jericho’s sister, Maya Rose, four years ago at age 25.

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Jericho Skye Magallon with his mother, Alison, during his send-o  on Saturday, March 5.

 

“When you go through that, and then hearing your son saying he’s going to go off and fight in a war, you can only imagine,” said Alison. “Kids often can say a lot of things, even myself, and it doesn’t come to fruition. So I was kind of going along with it. Then, when I realized a few days later that he was done getting his passport and had signed up with the Foreign Legion, it hit me. I was not in support of it one bit at that point. I expressed that to him.” 

After praying that something would change his mind, Alison had a change of heart herself. Two days before leaving, she accepted her son’s decision. 

“I realized that it’s not my choice to make, but it’s what I believe his calling is,” said Alison. “I asked for his forgiveness and said I would do whatever I could to help support him…. By the time I got to LA, taking him to the airport, I knew he was doing exactly what he was supposed to be doing, so I have total peace with it. I came full circle. I’m really proud of him.” 

Friends of Jericho’s shared similar concerns. 

“I think it’s risky,” said Ojai resident and friend Mark Sims. “He’s a very optimistic, sweet, hard-working young man. That’s one of the reasons we became friends. He genuinely cares about people. The fact that he wants to go to Ukraine to help these people who are suffering from this terrible situation speaks to that and proves it.” 

Alison noticed these traits in Jericho as a boy. 

“He was a defender, a protector,” said Alison. “Protecting animals and friends. He’s incredibly loyal, I could say sometimes to a fault. He’s just amazingly loyal to people, his country and what he believes. When he sees people suffering, it just tears him up. He’s a huge empath and has such a big heart, so it isn’t out of the ordinary he would go and do this.” 

This will be Jericho’s first time in Eastern Europe and in combat. He is concerned about language barriers and communication. 

“Not being able to communicate, I hope, is not going to be as big of a handicap as I fear it might be,” said Jericho. “We’re going to have to train as much as we can so we all get up to a speed together.”

Reuters reported March 4 that former U.S. military linguists are arming volunteers with Russian phrases before they head to Ukraine. The linguists are just one group in an expanding underground network of military and medical volunteers.

Jericho doesn’t know anyone going to fight abroad, and warned others with less experience of the dangers. 

“People without combat support, I really pray that they don’t try to join,” said Jericho. “The current actions of Russia show how unpredictable they are at this time, so we don’t know what to expect.”

Jericho stands firm in a desire to hold the line, noting the moment could be critical, capable of determining the future not just for Ukraine. 

“The front line is the resistance not just from Russia invading Ukraine, but for people with the mindset who think it’s okay to take what they want from others,” said Jericho. “If enough of us answer that call to protect and defend, then we have a chance at winning this fight and protecting these people.”

According to Ukrainian President Zelensky, Jericho joins more than 16,000 volunteers from around the world in the fight for Ukraine. 

“Without support, Russia is just going to take the country,” said Jericho. “And who knows what happens from there. Then they try to take another country, and another, and before you know it, they’re aligning with their allies and it could be something much larger.” 

Alison is a grief coach who provides advice for parents struggling through similar situations. 

“Truly find a place that you can ground in,” said Alison. “Whatever that is to anyone, to really find that place and connect with whether you call it God, creation, source. To be here today, talking with such peace in my heart, that only comes from a spiritual connection I have. That’s something I have to tap into daily just to stay grounded in. I encourage any parent, in whatever they’re facing, to find that practice, find that peace.”

web Jericho and son during send off

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Jericho Skye Magallon with his son, Kiran Sage, on March 5.

 

She continued: “I envision Jericho walking back, not just saying coming back, because his body could come back in different forms, but walking back an even greater being than when he left.”

She requested Jericho report back and let them know firsthand what kind of contributions can help the people of Ukraine. 

“Let us know what’s needed,” said Alison. “He’s going to be able to give us firsthand advice on what can be done. I said get contacts out there of where we can really support the people in Ukraine.” 

Volunteers are encouraged by Ukrainian embassies to join one of the 150 territorial defense battalions or the international brigade. 

“Ukraine needs support. Nobody is sending in troops,” said Jericho. “My heart is heavy. For one, the people of Ukraine, civilians that are currently being bombed. And my heart also goes out to the Russian soldiers who didn’t sign up to be killing their neighbors, their family members, and their friends.”

The United Nations confirmed March 8 that 474 civilian deaths have occurred in Ukraine since the invasion began, estimating 861 total injuries and more than 2 million refugees. 

“If other militaries were going to their aid, there’d be no reason for me to go,” said Jericho. “But what we’re seeing is somebody with no support. That’s why I feel a responsibility.”

Jericho intends on staying until a ceasefire is called. 

“At that stage, if the country needs help being rebuilt, I’ll be happy to lend aid,” said Jericho. “This is a war against some of the world’s best fighters. I pray that something gets through to Putin that turns his heart and he’ll call a ceasefire and stop killing civilians.” 

Jericho joins generations of other freedom fighters who left the United States to defend against oppressive governments abroad. 

The Lincoln Battalion fought off fascists in the Spanish Civil War, with more than 3,000 volunteers arriving in Spain in 1937 to serve as soldiers, technicians and medical personnel against Francisco Franco and his Nationalist faction. 

Prior to World War II, several U.S. pilots joined The Flying Tigers, where the American Volunteer Group joined China in a fight against Japan. 

And as recently as 2017, 1,000 Americans volunteered for the Israeli Army, while several hundred others joined the fight against the Islamic State in Syria, teaming up with the U.S.-allied Kurdish and Syrian militias. 

With reports of support coming in from around the globe for Ukraine, Russia has also started seeking outside help. 

On March 7, the Pentagon confirmed they believed Russia is trying to recruit Syrians to fight in Ukraine. 

“The accounts of the Russians seeking Syrian fighters to augment their force in Ukraine, we do believe there’s truth to that,” said Pentagon spokesman John Kirby in a press conference March 7. “It’s interesting that Putin would have to rely on foreign fighters.” 

Zelensky stated Russian bombing must stop prior to any ceasefire talks, surviving “more than a dozen” assassination attempts, according to his aide on March 9. 

“Already by themselves, they’re fighting for everything,” said Jericho. “They’re fighting for their families, for their homes, for their country, for their sovereignty. If Russia takes over, some of them probably won’t survive, and even if they do, what kind of world is it to live under Putin’s reign? It’s not a world I want to live in, and I’d fight like hell.”

All costs for gear, supplies, and airfare for the trip have been covered by Jericho. 

“He’s done all this on his own financially,” said Alison. “He spent his last dollar to buy all his own equipment. We’re all trying to band together to pull some finance in to send him because I don’t even know today if he’s got money. But it’s his heart, and he wants to see justice where he feels there’s injustice. That’s who he is.” 

For those wishing to support Jericho, he has a Venmo (@jerichoskye) as well as a Cashapp ($jerichoskye). Contributions can also be sent to the mother of his son, Erika, via PayPal at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

“Financial contributions are tremendous at this time,” said Jericho. “If I can get something through, it’s for people to be praying for everyone involved. For the Russian soldiers who don’t want to be there and their families, for the Ukrainian people who are under attack, and together as a world, we can pray for peace and shift the tide with our collective consciousness. Pray for love.” 

 

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