Travis Air Force Base captain rescues mother from Ukraine amid Russian invasion

VACAVILLE, Calif. (KGO) -- A U.S. Air Force captain based out Travis Air Force Base is breathing a sigh of relief after helping her mother escape Ukraine.

Captain Zlatoslava Karga jumped into action as soon as her mother, Luba, agreed to flee the war-torn country.

"I immediately contacted several of my friends in Ukraine, asking if they know of anyone who assists elderly and vulnerable populations escape keep Kyiv," said Capt. Karga.

The Ukrainian-born American citizen worked tirelessly to bring her mother to her Vacaville home.

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"I had almost two weeks of sleepless nights. Extreme anxiety," said Capt. Karga. "I was running on adrenaline literally because I was living on Ukrainian time and my brain constantly working."

She planned her mother's escape over a two-week period. Luba going from one safe house to the next - leaving everything behind.

"It's a huge sadness," said Luba, her daughter translating. "I was living my life. All things I know, my heirlooms, family ancestral things, family albums, my job, my cat, everything."

Capt. Karga calls her husband her biggest support.

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"I was sort of trying to play the role of assistant to my wife," said Rob Rigor. "I was just thinking what can I do to not get in the way and support her in whatever she needs to do."

And, that meant traveling to Poland to pick up his wife and his mother-in-law who's one of the millions of Ukrainians who've fled.

"I think it was seven buses until I finally found the one she was on and when I saw her come out the door I just ran up and grabbed her bags and gave her a hug," said Rigor.

Luba explained that she feels lucky to be safe and free on her family's property in Northern California.

"First of all, I cannot express how grateful I am to the American people," she said.

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Capt. Karga credits her Air Force background with bringing her mother to safety.

"Just the mere fact that I'm a female. I'm a captain and I'm serving my country just empowered me," she said. "I'm a leader who is able to make decisions and stand by them and not be afraid."

As for how long her mother with stay, Luba said, "Only time will tell."

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