Hollywood Military Advisor Supplies Gear for Ukraine War Effort, Urges Solidarity: “I Know What the Studios Have”
Former Marine Jon Barton has a new mission. The seasoned technical advisor for Hollywood productions (JAG, NCIS) and celebrities — including Tom Cruise, Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth — has been coordinating shipments of military gear to aid Ukraine’s resistance to Vladimir Putin’s Russian invasion.
The Iraq War veteran briefly considered volunteering for the International Legion of Territorial Defense of Ukraine. But when his friend, seasoned stuntman Shawn Balentine (Birds of Prey), suggested he might spare extra camouflage uniforms, his focus shifted. “A lightbulb went off,” says Barton, whose consulting and rental firm, Night-Fire, maintains a stockpile of military gear. “I can do more from here [in the U.S.], with my professional network of fellow veteran entrepreneurs that are scattered all over the country. The Ukrainian government was asking for this stuff, and we can supplement from the private sector.”
By his account, he’s since relinquished 80 percent of the inventory from his Ventura County warehouse — hundreds of uniforms, knee pads, boots, rifle slings and load-bearing tactical vests — to the war effort, working with L.A.’s Ukrainian Culture Center to send it through Warsaw and then into the embattled country via the logistics company Meest Group. “They guaranteed me it would go to Kyiv,” he says, noting that he was limited to shipping defensive material, which means no weapon parts.
Since word began circulating of his effort, he’s received boxes of tactical and other gear (emergency blankets, fire-starting kits, etc.) from civilians across the country — “vets that are desperately wanting to help the Ukrainians in any way they can.” In turn, he’s so far supplied 30 American volunteers of the International Legion, from Washington State to South Carolina, with a range of equipment mailed via FedEx: cold weather attire, binoculars, radios, flashlights. “I happened to have it,” he says. “They don’t expect it from a person in Hollywood.”
Now Barton’s hoping that bigger players follow suit. “I know what the studios have,” he says. “I’m just the little guy. Imagine what they can do. They might think of what they have as costumes. They’re uniforms.”