A Fallen US Marine
An American citizen and former Marine, Willy Joseph Cancel, has died in Ukraine while fighting alongside Ukrainian forces, according to the man’s family. His is the first known death of a US citizen fighting against Russian aggression in Ukraine. He was 22 years old.
Cancel had gone to Ukraine as a member of a private military contracting company. His mother, Rebecca Cabrera, told CNN that he died Monday while fighting against Russia with the international brigade of soldiers. She informed the press that her son had been in Ukraine since March 12th or 13th.
Loving Son, Husband, and Father
Through her tears, his mother 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.”
Cancel’s wife, Brittany, confirmed her husband’s death to ABC News, noting he was “eager to volunteer” to help Ukraine. She said that Willy had been a corrections officer in Kentucky and had dreams of becoming a police officer or joining the New York City Fire Department.
Willy Cancel leaves behind a 7-month-old son.
His widow continued:
“My husband was very brave and a hero. I did not expect to be a widow at 23 years old or for our son to be without a father.”
It is not immediately clear exactly where or how Mr. Cancel came to meet his end. His mother confirms that his body has not yet been found.
State Department Warnings
The US State Department has not immediately responded to a request for comment. However, since the start of the invasion, they have repeatedly warned against Americans going to Ukraine to fight in the war, saying American citizens “should not travel to Ukraine due to the active armed conflict and the singling out of US citizens in Ukraine by Russian government security officials.”
In addition to Cancel’s death, a 25-year-old Dane who also volunteered to fight for Ukraine was killed this week in Mykolaiv, according to Danish broadcaster TV2. Also, a journalist from the US-backed broadcaster Radio Liberty was killed in a Russian missile attack that hit her apartment building in Kyiv in what a Ukrainian government official said was an act of Russian “barbarism.”
Cancel’s family members are now pleading for his body to be located and returned to the United States. His wife told Fox News, “All I want is for him to come home and to give him the proper burial he deserves.”
This is a developing story; check back with SOFREP for additional details as they become available.