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Former US Marine Dies In Ukraine After Signing Up To Take On The Russians

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Former US Marine Dies In Ukraine After Signing Up To Take On The Russians

A former US Marine has been killed in Ukraine fighting against Russian invasion forces.

22-year-old Willy Joseph Cancel was fighting as a contracted mercenary for a private military company at the time of his death on Monday, his family have confirmed to CNN.

Speaking to the TV network, his mother Rebecca Cabrera said: “He wanted to go over because he believed in what Ukraine was fighting for, and he wanted to be a part of it to contain it there so it didn’t come here, and that maybe our American soldiers wouldn’t have to be involved in it.”

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Cancel travelled to Poland on 12 March and crossed the border into Ukraine the following day where he joined up with men from ‘all different countries’, his mother said.

It’s not clear exactly how he died, but his mother explained that the officials who informed her also said that they hadn’t been able to recover his body.

Cancel leaves behind a wife and child. Credit: Facebook
Cancel leaves behind a wife and child. Credit: Facebook

She said: “They haven’t found his body. They are trying, the men that were with him, but it was either grab his body or get killed, but we would love for him to come back to us.”

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Cancel – who hailed from Orange County in New York – had signed up with the contract soldiery company earlier on in the year as a means of supporting his income as a corrections officer in Tennessee.

He is survived by his wife and a seven-month-old baby.

The US State Department has said that it is ‘closely monitoring the situation’ but also reiterated their advice to US citizens not to travel to Ukraine to take up arms against the Russians ‘due to the active armed conflict and the singling out of US citizens in Ukraine by Russian government security officials.’

Devin Tietze Jr. – Cancel’s brother in law – said that the former US Marine was the ‘type to fight for what’s right regardless of the outcome’ and added that Cancel ‘always put everybody ahead of himself’.

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His mother Cabrera added: “He was just a really thoughtful person. He always kept everybody laughing and calm. He was the man that stood up when everybody else stood back.”

He was just 22-years-old. Credit: Facebook
He was just 22-years-old. Credit: Facebook

Cancel is not the first US citizen to be killed in the fighting, however. 67-year-old James Whitney Hill, who had been living and working in Ukraine for 25 years, was also killed during an attack last month.

New York Times employee Brent Renaud was also shot dead by Russian troops in Irpin in the days before Hill’s death.

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British citizen Scott Sibley was confirmed to have been killed on April 28, with another Brit confirmed as missing, although the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has yet to confirm what the men were doing in the country.

The pair were said to have been fighting against the Russians as volunteers, Sky News reported.

An FCDO spokesperson said: "We can confirm that a British national has been killed in Ukraine and are supporting their family."

"We are aware of a British national who is missing in Ukraine and are supporting their family. We are urgently seeking further information."

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No details have yet been released about how Sibley died.

If you would like to donate to the Red Cross Emergency Appeal, which will help provide food, medicines and basic medical supplies, shelter and water to those in Ukraine, click here for more information 

Featured Image Credit: CNN/Brittany Cancel/Facebook

Topics: News, World News, UK News, Ukraine, US News, Russia

Tom Wood
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