An American citizen and Marine veteran has died fighting Russia and Ukraine, while reportedly in the employment of an unnamed military contractor company.
22-year old Willy Joseph Cancel had entered Ukraine from Poland, sometime around March 12 or 13th, and his family has just announced his death which occurred Monday, according to CNN. Further, he was "working with a private military contracting company when he was killed on Monday. The company had sent him to Ukraine, and he was being paid while he was fighting there, Cancel’s mother, Rebecca Cabrera, told CNN." But curiously CNN fails to identify the contracting firm.
His family said in a statement that “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,”
The young Marine veteran's mother said additionally that "When the war began, the company, according to Cabrera, was searching for contractors to fight in Ukraine and Cancel agreed to go, Cabrera said."
The State Department has said it is aware of the situation but hasn't offered much comment, but only reiterated its position that Americans should avoid traveling to Ukraine. A statement said following news of Cancel's death: "US 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."
His family said that his body has not been recovered. "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," his mother additionally told CNN.
Cancel had a newborn at home, as Fox News details based on statements from his wife:
"My husband did die in Ukraine," Brittany Cancel, the widow of the 22-year-old Marine veteran, told Fox News Digital. "He went there wanting to help people, he had always felt that that was his main mission in life."
Cancel leaves behind his wife and a 7-month-old son. He appears to be the first U.S. citizen to die while fighting alongside Ukrainians in Ukraine.
Odd that CNN didn’t seek any additional information about this “private military contracting company” that apparently sent off a 22-year-old American to fight and die in Ukraine. Such as, you know, maybe the name of the company pic.twitter.com/taOsIEoWNb
— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) April 29, 2022
A few Americans have been killed and injured up to this point in the over 2-month long Russian invasion, including 55-year old Fox News cameraman Pierre Zakrzewski who died, as well as reporter Benjamin Hall who was severely injured during a reported Russian attack.
Last month, an American citizen who had been teaching in Chernihiv for 25 years had been killed. But given that this latest death was confirmed to be an American actively fighting (presumably) at the front lines, this could serve to escalate already soaring tensions between the US and Russia over Washington's role in arming Ukraine.
It's easy to talk about a widow in the abstract. It hurts more to see the real person.
This is Brittany with Willy. And here is a photo from their wedding.
These were good Americans. Blame the media and foreign-policy complex that misled them. pic.twitter.com/pNxeDBhedm
— Clint Ehrlich (@ClintEhrlich) April 29, 2022
It's been widely reported that there are likely tens of thousands of foreign fighters, among them mercenaries, which are mostly from Western countries, including Britain, whose leaders have at times made statements encouraging citizens to join Ukraine's foreign legion.