Retired Army Staff Sgt. Nicholas Maimer, who served as a Special Forces Engineer Sergeant with the Utah National Guard, has been killed in Bahkmut, Ukraine, his employer has confirmed.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of Russia’s Wagner Group private military company, appears in a video that a Russian military blogger posted on Telegram on Tuesday that purportedly showed Maimer’s body, as well as several forms of identification that were reportedly recovered from Maimer, including a Uniformed Services ID card issued to retired service members.

In the video, Prigozhin claims that Maimer was engaged in combat when he was killed, according to CNN.

“So we will hand him over to the United States of America,” Prizoghin says in the video, CNN reported. “We’ll put him in a coffin, cover him with the American flag with respect because he did not die in his bed as a grandpa but he died at war and most likely a worthy [death], right?”

Maimer went to Ukraine to help provide humanitarian aid for Ukrainians caught behind Russian lines, not to engage in combat as Prizoghin claimed, said retired Army Lt. Col. Perry Blackburn, CEO and founder of the non-profit group AFGfree

“His role with AFGfree was solely humanitarian,” Blackburn told Task & Purpose on Wednesday. “AFGfree would provide the supplies to where it was needed, and he was one of the guys that helped us determine where that need was most.”

At the time of his death, Maimer was working for AFGfree and Ukraine’s Territorial Defense Forces, a reserve unit of the Ukrainian military, training Ukrainians how to provide food and medical support to areas of the country under siege or occupied by the Russians, Blackburn said.

Retired Army Staff Sgt. Nicholas Maime
Retired Army Staff Sgt. Nicholas Maimer (right) in an undated photo. (Photo courtesy retired Army Lt. Col. Perry Blackburn)

Maimer was also training the Ukrainians on the most effective ways to evacuate civilians, Blackburn told Task & Purpose. 

“Being a Green Beret, he was able to link up with Ukranians and be able to foster relationships and then be able to provide a lot of help to a lot of people in need in a combat zone,” Blackburn said.

Blackburn said he was able to confirm Maimer’s death from Prigozhin’s video. From what information is available, it seems that Maimer was killed by a Russian artillery attack.

Above all, Maimer should be remembered as a humanitarian, Blackburn said.

“He put others before him,” Blackburn said. “He was just one of those guys that believed in helping others. Many of us have spent our youth at war and we’re just tired of it and we’re now using those talents to help people. Nick was really, really about helping others the best he could with the talents that he had.”

Maimer’s time in the Army was complex, according to his service record which was provided to Task & Purpose. He was an active-duty soldier from August 1996 to December 1998, and then he served in the Idaho, Utah, and California Army National Guard from 2000 to 2018. Most of his service from 2000 to 2018 was with the Idaho National Army National Guard, where he served as an 11B Infantry Soldier, 19S Cavalry Scout, and 19K M1 Armor Crewmember.

He served in the Idaho Army National Guard in November 2000 to March 2003 and then transferred to the Utah Army National Guard from March 2003 to July 2010, his service record says.

Maimer received his Special Forces tab in 2005 while serving with the Utah Army National Guard and became an 18C Special Forces Engineer Sergeant, his record says. He then deployed to the Philippines from September 2006 to May 2007.

In July 2010, Maimer transferred back to the Idaho Army National Guard, where he served until June 2012, his service record. He then served with the California Army National Guard until February 2013 before returning to the Idaho National Guard from the final time and retiring in December 2018.

At least 13 other Americans have died in Ukraine since Russia launched its invasion of the country in February 2022, including former Marine sergeant Cooper Andrews, who was killed on April 19 while helping Ukrainian civilians evacuate from Bakhmut.

Maimer’s uncle Paul told the Idaho Statesman newspaper that his family is trying to get his body home.

“I think he’s deserving to be put to rest in a veterans cemetery,” Paul Maimer told the newspaper.  He might not have been fighting for our country, but he was fighting for the right reasons.”

AFGfree released a statement on Tuesday describing Maimer as “a veteran of the United States and a hero of Ukraine.”

“Russian disinformation has displayed Nick in a light that we believe he should not be portrayed in,” the statement says. “We have always known him to be a humble, compassionate man that carried on the Special Forces motto, ‘De Oppresso Liber’ — Free the Oppressed.”

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