According to a report from Rolling Stone, an Ohio man affiliated with the right-wing extremist Boogaloo Bois got a boost from a local paper to raise funds to go fight the Russians in Ukraine only for the whole endeavor to end with him fleeing back home.
As Tim Dickinson wrote, Henry Hoeft -- who also goes by the name of Henry Locke -- landed a profile on the front page of the Columbus-Dispatch where the former infantryman in the U.S. Army boasted, 'We feel like if we can hold Putin for long enough we can possibly stop a world war,” before adding, "I will be there for as long as it takes. This is who I am."
As the reports notes, Hoeft's stay was a short one and the Dispatch had to go back and update their story to note his part in the rightwing militia after their piece helped him raise approximately $5000 on the Christian fundraising site GiveSendGo.
"But the noble narrative about standing up to Russian aggression concealed a darker tale, as the true story of Hoeft’s identity is far more complicated, and far less pleasant. Hoeft has deep ties to the militant Boogaloo Bois movement, which seeks to spark violent unrest. And his now infamous misadventure in Ukraine offers a cautionary tale about lionizing Americans who are pulling up stakes and seeking to insert themselves into a war zone," wrote Dickinson.
As he reports, once in Ukraine, Hoeft found things weren't so simple, complained about how he was treated and then posted a video online (which can be seen below) that became propaganda fodder for the Russians.
\u201cIt\u2019s a trap, they\u2019re cutting up our passports and sending us to the front\u201d.\n\nAmerican volunteer complains of mistreatment by Ukrainian forces - those he came to fight for - and claims losses suffered by foreign volunteers are being understated by Ukrainian authoritiespic.twitter.com/Mz0Z8qMRCh— \ud83c\uddf7\ud83c\uddf8\u2626 \u041c\u0438\u043b\u043e\u0448 \u041e\u0431\u0438\u043b\u0438\u045b #1244 \u2626\ud83c\uddf7\ud83c\uddf8 (@\ud83c\uddf7\ud83c\uddf8\u2626 \u041c\u0438\u043b\u043e\u0448 \u041e\u0431\u0438\u043b\u0438\u045b #1244 \u2626\ud83c\uddf7\ud83c\uddf8) 1647367428
"Far from staying in Ukraine to the bitter end, as he vowed, Hoeft has already gone viral for a video announcing his decision to cut and run" Rolling Store is reporting. "In the clip, he makes dire allegations, including that his life was threatened for deciding to leave, and that he had to masquerade as an aid worker to make it back across the border into Poland. 'We had to get the f*ck out of there,' Hoeft says in the video. 'People need to stop f*cking coming here. It’s a trap and they’re not letting you leave.'"
"For Hoeft, the excitement of arriving in Ukraine was almost immediately undermined by the harsh realities of joining under-funded foreign fighters," Dickinson reported, adding that Hoeft felt he was under-armed and bitterly complained, "They’re tying to send us to Kiev (sic) with no f*cking weapons, no kit, no f*cking plates. The people who are lucky enough to get weapons are only getting magazines with like 10 f*cking rounds."
After claiming he had been threatened for refusing to deploy, the report states Hoeft managed to flee with the report stating, "... he was bailed out by a humanitarian group that helped camouflage him as medical staff," and Hoeft himself explaining, "We got in, like, Red Cross vests and they had like f*cking humanitarian passes to get us through the Ukranian border."
Another American who accompanied Hoeft to Ukraine cast some doubts on his story.
Mike Dunn, "a gun-rights militant from Virginia," explained in a video, "The Georgia National Legion never threatened to kill me or harm me in any shape form or fashion. I can’t illegitimitize [sic] Henry’s story 1,000 percent, but I can say from my own perspective that it didn’t happen to me.”
Dunn added, "They were not fond at all of people with an Internet existence. Obviously, I have an extensive Internet existence… and I left the Georgia Legion about two days before Henry did," before stating, "I will not call it cowardice, but I will say that none of the stuff he described in the video happened to me. Obviously, his (video) is going to be used as anti-Ukrainian propaganda, which I am not for. I’m still here in Ukraine.”
The Rolling Stone report adds that Hoeft's social media accounts have either gone dark or disappeared.
You can read more here.