Reports are claiming that former U.S. Marine, Willy Joseph Cancel, was killed in Ukraine on Monday.
His mother, Rebecca Cabrera, told CNN the 22-year-old was sent to Ukraine, by a military contracting company, mid-March. She also said he was fighting alongside people from all around the world.
Recently she was informed that her son, and other Ukrainian forces, were killed in a large clash with Russian troops.
Cabrera told CNN in a phone interview:
“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.”
Cabrera also said her son’s remains have not been found.
News outlets have reported that Cancel served in the Marines from 2017-2021. He is survived by a wife and 7-month-old child.
A State Department official stated they are “aware of these reports and are closely monitoring the situation.”
Also saying, “We once again reiterate US citizens should not travel to Ukraine due to the active armed conflict and the singling out of US citizens in Ukraine by Russian government security officials, and that US citizens in Ukraine should depart immediately if it is safe to do so, using any commercial or other privately available ground transportation options.”
From the Marines to Ukraine
Marine Corps spokesperson Maj. Jim Stenger stated Cancel served as a rifleman while stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, but never deployed to a war zone.
Additionally, he received a bad conduct discharge after he was convicted of violating a lawful general order.
However Cancel seemingly turned things around by his work as a corrections officer in Tennessee.
Matthew Davio, a spokesman for the private prison company CoreCivic, said, “As a correctional officer, Mr. Cancel served his state and his community by helping maintain a safe, secure environment where inmates can participate in life-changing reentry programs.”
Cancel’s widow, Brittany Cancel, said “He went there (Ukraine) wanting to help people, he had always felt that that was his main mission in life.”
Adding that she thinks he’s a hero, and felt compelled to help people suffering In Ukraine.
Read next: Exclusive: Interviewing American Veterans in Ukraine