August 11, 2022

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By JONATHAN DREW

A 22-year-old former U.S. Marine was killed alongside Ukrainian forces within the warfare with Russia, his kin informed information retailers in what’s the primary identified dying of an American citizen preventing in Ukraine.

Willy Joseph Cancel was killed Monday whereas working for a navy contracting firm that despatched him to Ukraine, his mom, Rebecca Cabrera, informed CNN. Cancel had just lately labored as a corrections officer in Tennessee and had beforehand served within the Marines from 2017-21, becoming a member of the service the identical 12 months he graduated from highschool.

Cabrera stated her son had signed as much as work with the non-public navy contractor shortly earlier than preventing started in Ukraine on Feb. 24. She informed CNN he agreed to go to Ukraine.

“He wished to go over as a result of he believed in what Ukraine was preventing for, and he wished to be part of it to include it there so it didn’t come right here, and that possibly our American troopers wouldn’t need to be concerned in it,” she stated.

Cabrera stated her son’s physique has not been discovered.

“They haven’t discovered his physique,” she stated. “They’re attempting, the lads that have been with him, nevertheless it was both seize his physique or get killed, however we’d love for him to return again to us.”

She stated her son flew to Poland on March 12 and entered Ukraine shortly after. She stated he was preventing alongside males from plenty of international locations.

Cancel had additionally served as a volunteer firefighter in New York and leaves behind a 7-month-old son, based on an internet fundraising web page arrange by a person figuring out himself as his father. His spouse obtained the decision informing her of his dying on Tuesday, the web page stated. The daddy wrote that Cancel made the choice in early March to go to Ukraine as a result of he wished to defend harmless folks.

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Cancel graduated from Newburgh Free Academy in New York in 2017, the college district stated. He participated within the Junior Reserve Officers’ Coaching Corps whereas in highschool.

Cancel labored at a personal jail in Tennessee from Might 2021 till January, stated Matthew Davio, a spokesman for the non-public jail firm CoreCivic. The Trousdale Turner Correctional Middle, a medium safety facility, is about an hour northeast of Nashville.

“As a correctional officer, Mr. Cancel served his state and his group by serving to keep a secure, safe setting the place inmates can take part in life-changing reentry applications. We’re grateful for his service and saddened by his loss,” Davio stated in an announcement.

Whereas within the Marines, Cancel served as a rifleman and was stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. He was given a foul conduct discharge after he was convicted of violating a lawful normal order, Marine Corps spokesperson Maj. Jim Stenger stated.

He had no warfare zone deployments, Stenger stated. No different particulars on the dangerous conduct conviction have been supplied.

The U.S. has not confirmed the studies of Cancel’s dying. On Friday, the State Division stated it was conscious of the studies and is “carefully monitoring the scenario” however couldn’t remark additional “because of privateness concerns.”

“We as soon as once more reiterate U.S. residents shouldn’t journey to Ukraine because of the energetic armed battle and the singling out of U.S. residents in Ukraine by Russian authorities safety officers, and that U.S. residents in Ukraine ought to depart instantly whether it is secure to take action utilizing any industrial or different privately accessible floor transportation choices,” the State Division stated.

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Cancel’s widow, Brittany Cancel, informed Fox Information he leaves behind a younger son and that she sees her husband as a hero.

“My husband did die in Ukraine,” Brittany Cancel stated. “He went there wanting to assist folks, he had at all times felt that that was his important mission in life.”

She stated her husband volunteered to go to Ukraine but additionally had aspirations of turning into a police officer or firefighter.

“He had desires and aspirations of being a police officer or becoming a member of FDNY,” she informed Fox. “Naturally when he discovered about what was taking place in Ukraine, he was desperate to volunteer.”

Tens of hundreds of Ukrainians are believed to have been killed within the warfare. Different noncombatants from the U.S. have been killed, together with a documentary filmmaker who was slain when his automobile got here below hearth at a checkpoint and a person killed whereas he was ready in a bread line.

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Drew reported type Durham, North Carolina. Contributing have been AP Diplomatic Author Matthew Lee in Washington and Related Press writers Ben Finley in Norfolk, Virginia; Allen G. Breed in Hubert, North Carolina; Kristin Corridor in Murray, Kentucky; Karen Matthews in New York; and Dylan Lovan in Louisville, Kentucky.