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Americans Are Fighting and Getting Killed in the Ukraine War

HK416 Carbine
A Norwegian soldier of the Telemark Battalion, fires the HK416 with blank rounds toward a simulated target at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, June 13, 2020. Coalition forces’ training is used to enhance base defense operations to provide better security in Iraq. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Derek Mustard)

An American volunteer who was fighting for Ukraine against Russia was killed on Aug. 23 during heavy combat in the Donbas region. The volunteer’s death was confirmed by the U.S. State Department after the region’s proxy government posted pictures of his U.S. passport and Ukrainian ID card.

The man has been identified as 24-year-old Joshua Jones from Memphis, Tennessee. Jones had been in Ukraine for the last several months. He was initially part of the Norman Brigade, before moving on to a different unit. The brigade posted a message on social media honoring their comrade:

“We…were heartbroken when we received the news of one of (our) brothers and former member, Joshua Jones. He was the kind of guy you want to have in your unit. His playful attitude got us through grey skies, and there is no way we can forget him.”

The U.S. State Department confirmed only that an American had been killed – it declined to identify Jones’ identity. “We can confirm the death of a U.S. citizen in Ukraine,” a U.S. State Department spokesperson said. “Out of respect for the privacy of the family, we have no further comment at this time.” 

Oleg Kozhemyako, the governor of Russia’s eastern Primorsky Krai, region far from the fighting, said on Telegram that volunteers from his region’s Primorsky “Tiger” Detachment had killed Jones in fighting on Tuesday. 

Kozhemyako claimed that Jones was killed “in the first clash literally immediately after arriving at the front line.” He added that Jones was killed when a “trained group of mercenaries from different countries” tried to move in on Russian positions, but the “attack was repulsed, the positions were defended.”

U.S. Repeats Call for Americans to Leave Ukraine

The Russian proxy government in Donetsk, the Donetsk People’s Republic, is ready to transfer Jones’s remains, according to DPR human rights spokeswoman Daria Morozova, Russian state-run media TASS reported.

“I want to reiterate that mercenaries are not being considered as combatants and the international humanitarian laws are not valid in their cases. These individuals are stripped of any immunity during the fighting,” she said.

“I strongly recommend that any foreign nationals who came to Ukraine with militaristic purposes immediately leave the territory of the said country. Otherwise, nobody will be held responsible for their lives and security.”

The number of American deaths in Ukraine during the war has grown to seven, including video journalist Brent Renaud, U.S. Marine veteran Willy Joseph Cancel, Stephen Zabielski, and Jimmy Hill, who was killed while waiting in a bread line.

Mortar Fire

Army Col. Randy Lau fires a 120 mm mortar during live-fire exercise at Camp Roberts, Calif., June 15, 2021. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Walter Lowell

In July, volunteer soldiers Luke Lucyszyn and Bryan Young were reportedly ambushed by Russian tanks and killed in the Donetsk region. Another American, retired Marine Corps Capt. Grady Kurpasi, 50, has been missing since April 26 in southern Ukraine, where he and a team of international volunteers were in combat against Russian forces.

The State Department reiterated an earlier call for Americans to leave Ukraine. 

“Once again, we reiterate U.S. citizens should not travel to Ukraine due to the active armed conflict and the singling out of U.S. citizens in Ukraine by Russian government security officials,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

“U.S. citizens in Ukraine should depart immediately if it is safe to do so using any commercial or other privately available ground transportation options.”

Expert Biography: Steve Balestrieri is a 1945 National Security Columnist. A proven military analyst, he served as a US Army Special Forces NCO and Warrant Officer in the 7th Special Forces Group. In addition to writing for and other military news organizations, he has covered the NFL for for over 11 years. His work was regularly featured in the Millbury-Sutton Chronicle and Grafton News newspapers in Massachusetts.

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Steve Balestrieri is a 1945 National Security Columnist. He has served as a US Special Forces NCO and Warrant Officer before injuries forced his early separation. In addition to writing for 1945, he covers the NFL for and his work was regularly featured in the Millbury-Sutton Chronicle and Grafton News newspapers in Massachusetts.