Ex-Marine becomes first US citizen known to have been killed in Russia-Ukraine war | US Army

A former US Marine has been killed while fighting alongside Ukrainian troops – the first US civilian known to have died in combat in the war with Russia.

Willy Joseph Cancel, 22, was murdered Monday while working for a military contracting company that sent him to Ukraine, his mother, Rebecca Cabrera, told CNN.

Cabrera said her son worked as a district attorney in Tennessee and signed up to work with the private military contractor shortly before the fighting started in Ukraine in late February. She told CNN that he agreed to go to Ukraine.

“He wanted to go there because he believed in what Ukraine was fighting for, and he wanted to be a part of it to contain it there so it wouldn’t come here, and maybe our American soldiers wouldn’t have to get involved. in it,” she said.

Cabrera said her son’s body has not been found.

“They didn’t find his body,” she said. “They’re trying, the men who were with him, but it was either grabbing his body or getting killed, but we’d like him to come back to us.”

She said her son flew to Poland on March 12 and entered Ukraine shortly after, where he fought alongside men from a number of countries.

The US has not confirmed the reports. On Friday, the State Department said it was aware of the reports and is “monitoring the situation closely. Due to privacy concerns, we have no further comment. We reiterate once again that US citizens are not allowed to travel to Ukraine because of the active armed conflict and the pickling of US citizens in Ukraine by Russian government security officials, and that US citizens in Ukraine should leave immediately if it is safe to do so using of commercial or other privately available land transportation options”.

Cancel’s widow, Brittany Cancel, told Fox News that he is leaving behind a young son and that she sees her husband as a hero.

“My husband died in Ukraine,” said Brittany Cancel. “He went there to help people. He had always felt that was his most important mission in life.”

She said that her husband wanted to go to Ukraine voluntarily, but also had the ambition to become a police officer or firefighter.

“He had dreams and aspirations to become a police officer or join FDNY,” she told Fox. “Obviously, when he heard what was happening in Ukraine, he wanted to volunteer.”

Tens of thousands of Ukrainians were said to have died in the war. Other US non-combatants have been killed, including a documentary filmmaker who was killed when his vehicle came under fire at a checkpoint and a man who was killed while waiting in line.

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