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Willie Joseph Kansel, an American citizen and Marine veteran, died fighting alongside Ukrainian forces in UkraineThe man’s widow confirmed to Fox News Digital early Friday morning.
“My husband died in Ukraine,” Brittany Cancel, the widow of a 22-year-old Marine, told Fox News Digital. “He went there wanting to help people, and he always felt that this was his main mission in life.”
Cancellation leaves behind his wife and 7-month-old son. He appears to be the first American citizen to die fighting alongside the Ukrainians in Ukraine.
“My husband was very brave and a hero,” Cancel said. “I wasn’t expecting to be a 23-year-old widow or for our son to be without a father. All I want is for him to come home, and pay him the proper burial he deserves.”
Willie Cancelle’s mother, Rebecca Cabrera, told CNN that the Marine veteran signed on to work for a private military contracting company on top of his full-time job as a corrections officer shortly before war broke out in Ukraine at the end of February. The mother said that after the war began, the company asked contractors to fight in Ukraine and Cancel agreed to leave. Cabrera did not respond to a Fox News request for comment at press time.
Cancel flew to Poland on March 12 and crossed to Ukraine between March 12 and March 13.
“Before he wanted to help efforts in Ukraine, he was a Kentucky detention officer,” the widow told Fox News. “He had dreams and aspirations to become a police officer or to join the FDNY. Of course when he found out what was happening in Ukraine he was eager to volunteer.”
Photographer Pierre Zakrewski, 55, of Fox News Killed in Ukraine Last month alongside a Ukrainian journalist Oleksandra “Sasha” Kovchinova24. Benjamin Hall was seriously injured in the leg in the same attack.
Brent Reno, 51, a documentary filmmaker who had worked with The New York Times, also died in Ukraine last month.