LOYALSOCK TOWNSHIP, PA — This weekend, Galyna Cole is preparing to leave for Laughlin Air Force Base in Texas.
However, just two years ago, she immigrated from Russian-controlled Crimea to the United States.
"I really like the country from the first time I visited that this is where I really want to be because I believe there is a lot of good here, and it is my place now," said Airman First Class Cole.
Cole is a current United States resident with a green card.
In Crimea, she lived under the Soviet Union, Ukraine, and then finally, Russian rule throughout her life.
Crimea was annexed by Russia in 2014.
"I do remember when it became Ukraine, we suddenly had to learn Ukrainian history and Ukrainian language but then that no longer was a thing in 2014, and we had to switch from that to all Russian again," she said.
The 32-year-old central Pennsylvania resident wanted to express her gratitude towards her new country.
So, she decided to join the United States military with the help of her recruiter.
"I joined for many reasons. I joined because I really wanted to serve the country. Being an immigrant, that means a lot to me," Cole said.
"To sum up Galyna, she is resilient, prideful, and just overall a wonderful human being who is absolutely going to make the Air Force better tomorrow than it was today," said Master Sergeant Leo Knight of the United States Air Force.
With war raging on between Ukraine and Russia, she doesn't know when she will be able to see her family back home.
Fortunately for her, the war has not extended to her hometown.
"They are in Crimea, so there are no actions there, so thankfully, they are safe. I talk to them a lot, and they are not complaining, and it could be a lot worse," added Cole.
Saturday, she heads to Del Rio, Texas, where she will start her job in finance for the Air Force.
See more videos on our area’s connection to the Crisis in Ukraine on WNEP's Youtube page.