US citizen, Marine vet Willy Cancel killed in Ukraine fighting against Russia, family says

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Willy Joseph Cancel, a US citizen and US Navy veteran fighting in Ukraine, was killed this week during the Russian invasion, according to his family. He was 22.

Cancel, who had gone to Ukraine with troops from a private military contract company, died Monday as part of the international brigade of soldiers fighting against Russia, his mother, Rebecca Cabrera, told CNN. Cancel, whose mother said she had been in Ukraine since March 12 or 13, is believed to be the first known American to have died in 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,” Cabrera said.

Cancel’s wife of nearly three, Brittany, confirmed his death to Fox News, saying, “My husband died in Ukraine.” She told ABC News that Cancel, a detention officer in Kentucky who is “eager to volunteer” to help Ukraine, is leaving behind a 7-month-old son.

“My husband was very brave and a hero,” she said. “I didn’t expect to be a widow at 23 or our son to be fatherless.”

Cancel’s father, Willy Cancel Jr., told The Washington Post that his son “just wanted to help”.

“I’m not going to lie, I’ve tried to tell him, ‘Hey, think about it,'” the father said. “He thought people needed help.”

His father said it remains unclear how his son died or where he was in Ukraine at the time.

“We honestly have no idea,” Cancel Jr. said.

A State Department official confirmed to The Washington Post that the agency is “aware of these reports and is closely monitoring the situation.”

“Due to privacy concerns, we have no further comment,” the official said. “We reiterate once again that US citizens are not allowed to travel to Ukraine due to 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 with using all commercial or other privately available ground transportation options.”

Cancel’s death was announced hours after Ukraine said five Russian missiles shook the capital of Kiev during a visit by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Russian officials confirmed it hit the city and said Friday it had destroyed an arms factory.

In the US, Secretary of State Antony Blinken told lawmakers on Thursday that the world had changed dramatically and supported Finland and Sweden joining NATO. Earlier in the day, President Biden asked Congress to approve a $33 billion spending package that includes military and humanitarian aid for the country.

Missiles hit Kiev during UN chief’s visit; Russia makes slow gains in the east

At least three other American civilians have been killed in Ukraine since the invasion began. Serge Zevlever, a 62-year-old Ukrainian American living in St. Louis who had helped hundreds of children from Ukraine with medical needs to be adopted into American families, was killed by a Russian sniper outside Kiev, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Award-winning American journalist Brent Renaud, 50, was fatally shot on March 13 while reporting outside Kiev. Days later, James Whitney Hill, 68, was killed while trying to get food for himself, his partner and other critically ill patients at Chernihiv Regional Hospital in the northern Ukrainian city of Chernihiv.

American murdered in Ukraine tried to feed his sick partner and others in hospital, sister says

The International Legion, a special unit of foreign fighters set up by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense to join the fight against Russia, found interest from more than 20,000 volunteers and veterans from more than 50 countries in early March, Brig. Gene. Kyrylo Budanov, commander of the ministry’s main intelligence agency, told the Associated Press.

The war is still dangerous for people from all over the world who have volunteered to fight or assist in humanitarian efforts. According to a British non-profit group, Russian troops captured two British volunteers while trying to help three people leave Ukraine. Dominik Byrne, co-founder of the Presidium Network, an aid group working in Ukraine, told the BBC that the men were operating independently, although they had been in contact with his support group. The men, identified by Byrne to the Associated Press as Paul Urey and Dylan Healy, were carrying out an evacuation of a woman and two children from a village south of Zaporizhzhya, he said, and were last heard after hearing a call on Monday. had passed the checkpoint. †

According to Danish broadcaster TV2, a 25-year-old Dane who volunteered to fight for Ukraine was also killed in Mykolaiv this week.

Cancel had been in the Marines for about four years before coming out in the last two years, his father said. Cancel Jr. said his son “didn’t tell me too much” about traveling to Ukraine to fight in the war.

“Just that he went,” the father told The Post. †[He] kept it pretty quiet.”

Days after his death, Cancel’s relatives pleaded for his body to be located and returned to the United States.

“They’re trying, the men who were with him,” Cabrera told CNN, “but it was either grabbing his body or getting killed, but we’d like him to come back to us.”

Brittany Cancel told Fox that her husband dreamed of one day becoming a police officer or firefighter in New York City. Now she hopes that she, their loved ones and son can say goodbye.

“All I want is for him to come home and give him the proper burial he deserves,” she said.

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