American Killed Fighting for Ukrainian Forces

Willy Joseph Cancel, an American former Marine, was killed on April 25th fighting alongside Ukrainian Forces against Russia’s invasion. Cancel, 22 years old, was in Ukraine working for a private military contracting company. His mother, Rebecca Cabrera, told CNN that he wanted to help because he “believed in what Ukraine was fighting for”.

His mother went on to explain that Cancel felt it was important for him to get involved in order to contain the conflict and ensure U.S. troops did not have to be sent. He Flew to Poland on March 12, crossing the border into Ukraine within the next day. Originally from Orange County, New York, he was living in Tennessee before he left. Cancel leaves behind a 7-month-old child and a wife.

Unfortunately, Cancel’s body has not been recovered. Though they are looking for it, the group he was fighting alongside were forced to leave the area or risk more people dying. His mother describes him as “just a really thoughtful person. He always put everybody ahead of himself even when situations were so stressful.” She attributes these qualities to his desire to do the military contract work.
Cabrera said the group Cancel was fighting alongside came from many different countries. At the beginning of the conflict, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry created a special unit called the International Legion for foreigners wanting to join the fight. As of March 7th, over 20,000 people from 52 different countries had expressed interest in helping Ukraine.

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