Jacksonville attorney delivering ambulances to war-torn Ukraine

Moseley, Prichard partner Phillip Buhler has been working with a humanitarian aid nonprofit for two years.

  • By Max Marbut
  • | 12:00 a.m. June 20, 2024
  • | 4 Free Articles Remaining!
Attorney Phillip Buhler, left, with a member of the Ukraine Territorial Defense Force and one of the many ambulances Buhler helped deliver to the Eastern European country.
Attorney Phillip Buhler, left, with a member of the Ukraine Territorial Defense Force and one of the many ambulances Buhler helped deliver to the Eastern European country.
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A Jacksonville attorney is a member of an international group of volunteers that in the past week delivered more than 40 ambulances to Ukraine.

Phillip Buhler, a partner at Moseley, Prichard, Parrish, Knight & Jones, is working with Ukraine Focus, an Alexandria, Virginia-based nonprofit that rallies people and resources to help Ukrainians since their Eastern European country was invaded by Russia in February 2022.

“A friend in Massachusetts got involved and I decided I’d like to contribute. My first trip was a few months after the war broke out,” Buhler said June 18 by telephone from Lviv, Ukraine, about 40 miles from the border with Poland.

Buhler and his colleagues, along with members of the Ukraine Territorial Defense Force – the country’s national guard – delivered 45 ambulances driven from France to Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine.

Volunteers with the U.S.-based nonprofit Ukraine Focus joined members of Ukraine’s national guard to deliver a fleet of ambulances to replace patient transport vehicles that have been destroyed in the war with Russia or hijacked by invading troops.

“This was our ninth mission and it was special. We assembled the fleet of ambulances in Normandy, France. Then, after the 80th celebration of D-Day at Utah Beach, we began driving them across Europe to Ukraine,” Buhler said.

One of the stops in France turned out to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“We had a police escort through Paris. They pushed the French drivers to the side of the road. That was fantastic,” Buhler said.

Along with the ambulances that are needed because Russian troops either destroy them when they invade a city or take them to Russia, Ukraine Focus delivers other humanitarian items the people in damaged or destroyed cities and towns need.

“We ask the Ukrainians what they need and donate it ourselves or find someone who can. Then we pack the ambulances with donated clothes, bandages, whatever the people need. We take building materials. We put a roof on a city hall that was being used as a refugee center because it was the only structure left standing in the town,” Buhler said.

The nonprofit also partnered with a manufacturer that donated 3D printing equipment to make prosthetic limbs for wounded Ukrainian soldiers.

Buhler specializes in admiralty law. In 2017 he began practicing part-time at Moseley Prichard. He teaches admiralety law at a university in Germany about three months a year and is pursuing a Ph.D. in polar shipping law at a university in Canada when he isn’t delivering humanitarian aid to the people of Ukraine.

Near the end of his ninth mission to the war zone, Buhler said his dedication to the cause is even stronger than when he began the humanitarian project more than two years ago.

“I am in this for the duration. Ukraine is at war and fighting for its life,” he said.

Spending weeks at a time in a country at war gives him a certain perspective that he shares with friends and colleagues when he returns home.

“You need to get on your hands and knees and thank God you live in the country where you live. We are so fortunate,” Buhler said.



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