The two Americans killed in heavy fighting in Ukraine have been identified.
Luke Lucyszyn and Bryan Young were killed on Monday in the Donbas, where Putin’s troops have been bombarded for months.
The pair were killed when a Russian tank opened fire during an hours-long battle on the Donetsk frontline.
The pair were killed alongside Emile-Antoine Roy-Sirois of Canada and Edvard Selander Patrignani of Sweden.
Kathy Lucyszyn said she was notified of Luke’s death by the US State Department.
Ukrainian commander Ruslan Miroshnichenko also named the couple whose deaths were announced Friday by the foreign ministry, which did not identify them.
Luke Lucyszyn, an American citizen with a Ukrainian grandmother, is killed on the frontline in the Donbas
Bryan Young was also killed in the attack in the Donetsk region, his commander has confirmed
Corey Mesimer, 29, of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is an old friend of Lucyszyn’s, affectionately known as Skywalker, and said the fighter was moved to join the fight against Russia because his grandmother was born in Ukraine.
He told the New York Times: ‘That was something he had to do; he felt very strongly about it.
“And even talking to him while he was there, he felt like it was something he should do for the country of Ukraine.”
Mesimer described his friend as the “life of the party,” and they previously played on the same paintball team in Myrtle Beach.
Lucyszyn had no previous military experience, according to Mesimer, which worried some friends, but he would regularly message them on WhatsApp, where he mentioned the heavy shelling and low supplies they were battling.
In their last conversation on July 8, Lucyszyn said, “I’ll be fine.”
Mesimer then replied, “I’m just glad you’re doing well, buddy. Watch your safety.’
Miroshnichenko described Young as a “military man” who was wounded on a mission and moved to the reserves
The men had been part of a special operations force within the Territorial Defense of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, stationed near Siversk.
They were deployed three kilometers away in the village of Hryhorivka, where they were ordered to clear a ravine and take up their firing positions.
Miroshnichenko told Politics: ‘They have done it successfully. But at the end of the mission, they were ambushed by Russian tanks.
“The first grenade wounded Luke. Three boys, Edward, Emile and Bryan, immediately tried to help Luke, give first aid and evacuate him from this place. Then the second grenade killed them all.’
Miroshnichenko described Young as a “military man” who was wounded on a mission and moved to the reserves.
The US citizen decided to come to Ukraine because he had “sworn an oath to protect the free world.”
In a tribute on Facebook, the commander said: “It hurts so much to lose the boys. The emotions are overwhelming and I can’t find the words right now for the post they deserve.
“I’m just saying, they weren’t hiding, but they were looking for every opportunity to be helpful, they all volunteered and did their combat duty on the front line to the very end. Calmly and with honor.’
At least two other Americans have been killed fighting for Ukraine, while two other Americans are in Russian captivity and may be executed.
Stephen Zabielski, 52, was killed in May after stepping on a land mine in Dorozhnyanka, Zaporizhzhia Oblast.
Americans Stephen Zabielski, 52, (left) and Willy Joseph Cancel, 22, (right) have already been killed fighting for Ukraine
The father of five accidentally stepped on a trip wire while traversing through dense vegetation in foggy conditions. He was on a mine clearance mission at the time.
A friend on Facebook said at the time that Zabielski had experience in the US military, which appealed to young Ukrainian fighters.
“He was afraid he wouldn’t be hired given our age, but his experience made him the exception. Despite our age, we both knew we had a duty given our beliefs.
Steve stayed in Ukraine and gave his life for the freedom of Ukraine. He was killed by a landmine. He was the child of Polish-Americans, so he knew and understood sacrifice.’
His death comes after that of US Marine Corps veteran Willy Joseph Cancel, 22, who was killed in April. How he died remains unknown.
Cancel was hired through a private military contractor.
Two Americans are also currently being held captive by Russians: Alexander Drueke, 39, and Andy Huynh, 27, both from Alabama.
Two other Americans Alexander Drueke, 39, and Andy Huynh, 27, both from Alabama, are also held captive by Russian troops
They were captured by Russian forces on June 11 when they failed to return to a meeting place after their group came under heavy fire in the Kharkiv region of northeastern Ukraine, near the Russian border.
The two soldiers have appeared in several videos circulated throughout Russia since their capture. Previously, the men seemed scared, but in the latest video they look calmer.
Drueke and Huynh traveled separately to help Ukraine, but became friends there, partly because of their shared background in Alabama, relatives say.
The US State Department said it is investigating reports that Russian or Russian-backed separatist forces in Ukraine have captured at least two US citizens. If confirmed, they would be the first Americans to fight for Ukraine known to have been captured since the war began on February 24.
Drueke’s mother, Lois “Bunny” Drueke, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, spoke to her son on the phone for 10 minutes last month. Bunny said she believes parts of the conversation didn’t seem to come directly from him.
“It was clear there were two things going on,” she said Good morning America (GMA). “First, I could tell when he was telling me something in a script. And the other things he said were just the ordinary conversations, ordinary conversations that mothers really cherish.’
Previously, Drueke, a US military veteran, and Huynh, a former US Marine, were warned by the Kremlin that they might be executed for being what Putin’s government called “soldiers of fortune.”
The Kremlin said the men were ineligible for the rights granted to prisoners of war captured by rivals because they had not signed up for the foreign army they fought with.