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How to escape from Afghanistan to Texas — alive

For those who might be stuck in that nightmare, and the U.S. government can’t – or won’t – help, the organization Project Dynamo might be your last hope.
Credit: Project DYNAMO
Members of Project DYNAMO pose for a photo.

DALLAS — They are the places you don’t want to be trapped as an American: failed states, rogue nations, and hot spots around the world.

But for those who might be stuck in that nightmare, and the U.S. government can’t – or won’t – help, the organization Project Dynamo might be your last hope.

“It’s wherever the government can’t function or isn’t functioning or isn’t present, that’s the gray space where it’s not quite there, but not quite not either,” said the group’s founder Bryan Stern on Y’all-itics. “It’s not like we can’t send a SEAL team into Ukraine. We just choose not to for whatever the political and diplomatic reasons are.”

Bryan Stern is a decorated U.S. military veteran.

He was at Ground Zero when the planes hit. And he served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Over the last 18 months or so, Stern says he and other volunteers, primarily veterans, have extracted more than 6,000 Americans, including a recent rescue of a Texas family out of Afghanistan.

They also have a program called Gemini, their surrogate baby program. Project Dynamo will rescue American babies born to Ukrainian women who are carrying the child for American mothers.

“We’ve done 70 of those operations. What does that mean? We’ve rescued 70 American babies under the age of a month old from the war zone. 70,” Stern told us proudly.

As you would imagine, this work is dangerous.

Stern and his team have managed to pull off some of the most daring rescues you could ever think of.

And it involves many of the same tricks you see in movies, complete with disguises, getaway cars, encrypted devices, and safe houses.

They constantly have to avoid deadly traps.

“They've sent hitmen to kill me. They've tried to bait me into different scenarios for lack of better terms, go different places and do different things,” he said. “We're really careful and we always try and stay two or three or four moves ahead. And like I said, it's Donnie Brasco, so, you know, we lie, cheat, and steal for the good guys.”

Stern says he’s not only become a master of disguise, but he also tells us the Russians have even started calling him “The Magician” for some of the escapes his organization has managed to pull off, including the rescue of a nuclear scientist from Texas who was being held in Russian occupied territory of Ukraine.

“The Russians call me volshebnik, which means the magician or the wizard. And it’s so appropriate. It’s such an appropriate nickname. They say it with anger. I wear it as a badge of honor almost, I love it. And that’s very much at the core of Dynamo,” Stern said.

Like with any organization where one risks life and limb on a daily basis, the relationships that are formed are also like magic, Stern says.

And one can easily imagine the disparate individuals that come together to work as one unit to achieve what must often seem like an impossible mission.

“I have volunteers that work for me that are MAGA hat-wearing, Trump tattoo-having folk. And then I have other people that work for me that, no kidding, have Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders bumper stickers on their cars as we speak right now,” Stern told the Jasons. “It’s what I love about Dynamo. As the founder, what I really love is that this is nothing to about political crap or any of that stuff. This is purely about taking care of Americans.”

Stern talks at length about some of the missions his team has pulled off and what his organization needs and plans to do next to continue their calling. Listen to the entire episode of Y’all-itics to discover more. Cheers!

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