Former Marine dies fighting alongside Ukrainians; Widow calls him a 'hero'

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An American citizen and former Marine, Willy Joseph Cancel, died fighting alongside Ukrainian forces in Ukraine, the man’s widow confirmed to Fox News Digital early Friday morning.

“My husband did die in Ukraine,” Brittany Cancel, the widow of the 22-year-old former Marine, told Fox News Digital. “He went there wanting to help people, he had always felt that that was his main mission in life.”

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Cancel leaves behind his wife and a 7-month-old son. 

Brittany and Willy Cancel, photo credit Brittany Cancel.

Brittany and Willy Cancel, photo credit Brittany Cancel.
(Photo credit Brittany Cancel)

“My husband was very brave and a hero,” Cancel said. “I did not expect to be a widow at 23 years old or for our son to be without a father. All I want is for him to come home, and to give him the proper burial he deserves.”

The former Marine signed up to work for a private military contracting company on top of his full-time job as a corrections officer shortly before the war in Ukraine broke out at the end of February, Willy Cancel’s mother, Rebecca Cabrera, told CNN. After the war began, the company asked for contractors to fight in Ukraine and Cancel agreed to go, the mother said. Cabrera did not respond to Fox News’ request for comment by press time.

Willy Cancel on tour in Japan. Photo credit Brittany Cancel

Willy Cancel on tour in Japan. Photo credit Brittany Cancel
(Photo credit Brittany Cancel)

Cancel flew into Poland on March 12 and crossed into Ukraine at a point between March 12 and March 13. 

“Prior to wanting to help the effort in Ukraine, he was a detention officer in Kentucky,” the widow told Fox News. “He had dreams and aspirations of being a police officer or joining FDNY. Naturally when he found out about what was happening in Ukraine he was eager to volunteer.”

Willy and Brittany Cancel at their wedding. Photo credit Brittany Cancel

Willy and Brittany Cancel at their wedding. Photo credit Brittany Cancel
(Photo credit Brittany Cancel)

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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