A Marine Corps veteran from New York is believed to be the first American to die in combat while fighting alongside Ukrainian forces in their war against Russian invaders.
Willy Joseph Cancel, 22, was killed while fighting Russians as a volunteer in the Ukrainian forces, Fox News reported Friday.
The Marine veteran had been working for a private military contracting company to supplement this full-time work as a corrections officer. He agreed to stay on after the company asked for volunteers to remain in Ukraine once fighting broke out in February, according to multiple media reports.
“He wanted to be a part of it to contain it there so it didn’t come here and that maybe our American soldiers would have to be involved in it,” she said.
He reportedly flew to Poland on March 12 and crossed over to Ukraine shortly afterward. He joined people from several countries who also volunteered to defend the country against Russia. The details about how Mr. Cancel died have not been disclosed and his body has yet to be recovered, CNN reported.
“My husband was very brave and a hero,” Brittany Cancel told Fox News. “I did not expect to be a widow at 23 years old or for our son to be without a father. All I want is for him to come home and to give him the proper burial he deserves.”