Marine Corps and Air Force Reserve veteran David Baturin felt an obligation to protect Ukrainian children following Russia’s invasion of the country, said his former pastor in Galloway, Ohio.
“This is what basically was tearing him apart: Seeing kids dying in Ukraine, innocent people dying in Ukraine,” Rev. Viktor Moskalyuk told Task & Purpose. “So, it was just a calling of his heart.”
Baturin, 26, attended Moskalyuk’s Grace Evangelical Church and its Bible studies program while growing up Moskalyuk, said.
On Oct. 7, Baturin was killed in Ukraine by an “enemy bombing attack,” according to an online tribute to his life and legacy. No further information was immediately available about the circumstances of his death.
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“His heroic sacrifice, born from the greatest form of love, stands as a beacon of hope and bravery,” the online tribute says. “While he may be gone, David’s legacy endures, inspiring love and courage in all who were privileged to know him and those who will hear of his noble story.”
Baturin was born in Ukraine, and his family moved to Ohio before he was 2 years old, according to WCMH-TV, an NBC-affiliated television station in Columbus, Ohio.
He enlisted in the Marines in December 2019 and went on to become an Air Traffic Controller Trainee, according to his Marine Corps service record, which was provided to Task & Purpose.
His military awards include the National Defense Service Medal and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and his last duty assignment was at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in North Carolina. Baturin left the Marines in March 2022 as a lance corporal.
Prior to joining the Marines, Baturin served in the Air Force Reserve from September 2017 to December 2019, his Air Force Reserve service record says. He served in the Airlift and Special Mission Aircraft Maintenance career field and he ultimately reached the rank of senior airman.
His last duty station was at Youngstown Air Reserve Station and his military awards include the National Defense Service Medal, Global War and Terrorism Service Medal.
A member of Baturin’s family declined to comment when contacted by Task & Purpose on Monday.
More than 30 U.S. military veterans have died in Ukraine since February 2022, according to a list compiled by Task & Purpose. Some of the other Marine veterans who have been killed in Ukraine include Ian Tortorici, Lance Lawrence, and Joel David Beal.
The State Department does not provide an estimate of how many Americans in total have been killed in Ukraine since Russia’s latest invasion, but open sources put the number at above 40.
Hundreds of mourners attended Baturin’s funeral last month at Grace Evangelical Church, WCMH-TV reported.
Baturin’s family asked to hold the service at the church because it has a large Ukrainian congregation, Moskalyuk said.
“I feel he should be remembered as a person who chose not to sit back and just watch on television what has happened – the suffering and pain that is happening to Ukrainian people – but actually raised up and tried to do something against this evil,” Moskalyuk said. “He was determined. He was determined that once he made his mind up, basically he would do what needed to be done by the calling of his heart. He never had a doubt.”
UPDATE: 11/27/2023; this story was updated with information from David Baturin’s Air Force Reserve service record.
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