Alabama veteran recognized for helping friend serving in Ukraine

Published: Jul. 4, 2022 at 9:24 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 4, 2022 at 10:20 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - A veteran in Tallassee is doing what he can to help a fellow solider in Ukraine. His assistance is now being recognized by the Ukrainian government.

71-year-old Gregory Dubay is a highly decorated war hero. The retired lieutenant colonel and medical doctor served for 40 years, including time in the Vietnam War and the Gulf War. During Operation Desert Storm, Dubay suffered injuries, including the loss of his hearing.

“Other problems arose from that conflict, and I eventually received 100% disability,” Dubay said. “I’d do it all again, regardless of the cost.”

Even after retirement, the dedicated soldier is still finding ways to protect and serve others. Years before Russia invaded Ukraine, Dubay became friends with a man named Andrei, who is from Ukraine. The two have kept in contact over the years.

“Messaging every few months, sending pictures, bragging about the fish we’ve caught,” Dubay said with a smile.

When Dubay heard about the invasion of Ukraine, he immediately thought of Andrei and his pregnant wife, Ludmyla.

“I was shocked. He had messaged me about being activated and his primary job was defense of Kyiv,” Dubay said.

With food supplies becoming scarce in the war-torn country, Dubay knew he had to help. Over the last few months he has packaged and shipped off nearly 30 boxes of food and supplies to the couple, along with things the Ukrainian army can use, like tactical gloves, batteries, binoculars and two-way radios. Andrei has been able to use the radios to communicate with his subordinates without interception from Russian forces.

It’s an act of service many would find selfless, but Dubay doesn’t see it that way.

“I’m assisting another soldier who’s having a tough time. Am I serving? The Ukrainians thought so,” he said.

To Dubay’s surprise, he received a medal in the mail from the Ukrainian government as a “thank you” for the packages. Dubay said the medal is the Ukrainian Cross of Glory and Merit.

“Apparently Andrei recommended me for this award,” Dubay said with a tear his eye.

It’s an award he said he doesn’t feel deserving of but will hold close to his heart.

“I pray for them. I want them to survive the war,” Dubay said. “I want Ukraine to be free, and I said I’m just doing my duty.”

When the war is over Dubay wants to travel to Ukraine to visit Andrei and said the two of them have plans to go fishing together.

Along with being in the military, Dubay was a longtime foot doctor in Tallassee. He ran his own practice, Central Alabama Foot Care, while serving in the Alabama National Guard.

Among some of the medals Dubay has been awarded include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star and Army Achievement Medal.

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