Orange County native who served in the Marines dies in Ukraine

An Orange County native was killed fighting Russian invaders in Ukraine is being remembered by his hometown community as a true hero.

Blaise Gomez

Apr 29, 2022, 10:54 AM

Updated 807 days ago


An Orange County native was killed fighting Russian invaders in Ukraine is being remembered by his hometown community as a true hero. 
Residents in Newburgh remember Willy Cancel when he graduated Newburgh Free Academy in 2017. At the time, he had his entire life ahead of him. 
His death is hitting family and friends hard. They say he died trying to save other Americans from the same fate. 
Cancel, 22, was killed Monday after volunteering to fight alongside Ukrainian soldiers. 
Cancel’s father issued a statement on a GoFundMe page for the wife and infant son he leaves behind.
“Our son {…} made the decision to put himself in the face of danger in order to protect the innocent,” says Willy Cancel Sr.
Cancel grew up in Washingtonville and Newburgh before he joined the Marines and married his sweetheart, Brittany – who’s from Cornwall. 
He died Monday while working for a private military contracting company. 
Orange County Executive Steve Nehuaus, who is serving with U.S. troops in the effort to aid Ukraine, says Cancel’s ultimate sacrifice will never be forgotten. 
“He wanted to go there to prevent other American service members from having to lay down their lives for this country,” says Neuhaus. “It’s tragic. He has a young wife and a little baby at home.” 
Cancel was not active duty in the Marines and was living in Tennessee working as a corrections officer. 
The Washingtonville school district says he was in their ROTC program while a student there and released this statement online offering their condolences to the community. 
“They keep saying he’s a former Marine, but if you ask any Marine, they’ll say they’re always a Marine,” says Neuhaus. “He was a patriot through and through.” 
Family members say their hope is to get Cancel’s remains back to the U.S., but his body has not yet been recovered. 

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