A former Marine infantryman who left Kentucky to defend Ukraine in March was killed this week while fighting the Ukrainian army, according to his uncle. He is thought to be the first American to be killed in combat.
Willie Joseph Kensell Jr., 22, lived in Kentucky and worked as a correctional officer before his death, Uncle Christopher Kensell said in an interview Friday.
The uncle said a man who was fighting with the younger Mr. Cancel called his father and said he had left for a night patrol on April 24, and possibly the next day his unit. Russian troops surrounded. The uncle said the caller indicated that his body had not yet been found.
The family’s fundraising page says the wife of Willie Joseph Cancel Jr. also received a call Tuesday. “Your husband fought valiantly, but unfortunately he did not succeed,” the caller said, according to the account, written by his father. It was not immediately clear who made the call.
“Our whole family is just worried, and we don’t know how to continue,” the posting said.
Mr Cancel’s mother, Rebecca Cabrera, told CNN he was working for a private military contracting company, but on Friday, his uncle said the family did not know the name of the company and that no contractor had been killed since his death. Did not contact them.
According to the Marine Corps, Willie Joseph Kensell Jr. spent nearly four years in the Marine Corps and was discharged from misconduct, leaving the service as a private in November after spending time in the brigade for an unknown criminal offense.
The State Department said Friday it was aware of reports of Mr Kensell’s death and would provide consular assistance to his family. “In this extremely difficult time, we have nothing more to announce,” said department spokeswoman Jalina Porter. “We would also like to reiterate that American citizens should not travel to Ukraine during this active armed conflict.”
“This is a very dangerous situation,” he said, adding that US citizens in Ukraine were being isolated by Russian government security personnel, and that “American citizens in Ukraine should be released immediately.” But it is safe to do so commercially or privately. Available land transportation options.
Since the Russian invasion on February 24, an unknown number of Americans Volunteer to help Ukraine. In various ways, including hundreds of veterans who want to join the fight on the ground. Ukrainian officials claim that thousands of foreign volunteers have joined the army, but the exact number is difficult to determine.
According to the family of one of them, two other U.S. veterans involved in the fighting in Ukraine were wounded this week.
Paul K. Gray, 42, of Tyler, Texas, and Mans E. McCaffrey, 20, of Parma, Ohio, both of whom had served in the U.S. military, were wounded Wednesday when a Russian artillery shell hit their combat position. To Mr. Gray’s mother, John Gray.
The two were waiting to ambush a Russian tank when Shri Panel hit Mr McCaffrey in the face and a concrete wall fell on Mr Gray, injuring his leg. Twitter posts By Nolan Peterson, an American journalist. Video and photos recorded by Mr. Gray show two fighters dressed in camouflage receiving first aid and shortly after boarding a military ambulance, with Mr. McCaffrey’s face and head covered in blood. Are covered
Ms Gray, a nurse, said she spoke to her son via video after the attack, who confirmed the two were injured. “He is doing well,” he said of his son. “The other guy I’m most worried about.”
Russia-Ukraine War: Significant Progress
Mr McCaffrey’s family did not respond to a request for comment. Ms Gray said at least one member of the McCaffrey family was traveling to Ukraine.
According to the military, Mr Gray was an Army infantry sergeant who had twice served in Iraq during the height of hostilities. They Told Daily Texan In 2009 he retired medically with Purple Heart.
Mr McCaffrey was in the military for only two years – far below standard recruitment. He was stationed in Afghanistan for one month in August 2021 and left the army in January. The military has given no reason for his release.
Ms Gray said the two men became close in Ukraine, and went everywhere together.
He said Mr Gray was speaking out in defense of Ukraine. He fled the country before the war, joined the army when Russia invaded, and has since appeared in several media outlets to explain his decision.
“This is my moral responsibility.” He told Fox News In early March. “These are some of the best people in the world.”
Kirsten Noise participated in the research.