American vet killed fighting in Ukraine, reports say

Morning In America

(NewsNation) —  A former U.S. Marine working for a military contracting company has reportedly been killed fighting in Ukraine.

Rebecca Cabrera told CNN her son, 22-year-old Willy Joseph Cancel, was killed Monday while working for the company that sent him to Ukraine.

Cabrera said her son was working as a corrections officer in Tennessee and had signed up to work with the private military contractor shortly before the fighting began in Ukraine in late February. She told CNN he agreed to go to Ukraine.

“He wanted to go over because he believed in what Ukraine was fighting for, and he wanted to be a part of it to contain it there so it didn’t come here, and that maybe our American soldiers wouldn’t have to be involved in it,” she said.

Cabrera said her son’s body has not been found.

“They haven’t found his body,” she said. “They are trying, the men that were with him, but it was either grab his body or get killed, but we would love for him to come back to us.”

Cabrera said her son flew to Poland in mid-March and made his way into Ukraine a day later.

Cancel’s widow, Brittany Cancel, told Fox News he leaves behind a seven-month-old baby and that she sees her husband as a hero.

“My husband did die in Ukraine,” Brittany Cancel said. “He went there wanting to help people, he had always felt that that was his main mission in life.”

Cancel was originally from Orange County, New York. After a four-year stretch in the Marines, he worked as a corrections officer in Tennesee.

A GoFundMe has been set up to support his family.

“It’s very sad,” President Joe Biden said. “He left a little baby behind.”

Reports said Cancel was among a group of men from various countries all fighting as a unit.

At the outset of the invasion, more than 20,000 volunteers and veterans from 52 countries expressed interest in fighting for Ukraine.

Although the U.S. isn’t sending troops there, there Ukrainian Defense Ministry created a special unit, The International Legion, for foreign fights. American Cody Heard is one of them.

On NewsNation’s “Morning in America” he called Cancel’s death heartbreaking as a fellow veteran. The two soldiers didn’t know each other, but fought for a common cause.

There’s a lot still unknown about Cancel’s death and the circumstances surrounding it. His family has questions, but tonight they are focused on recovering Cancel’s body and bringing him home.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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