2 US military veterans killed in Ukraine during intense fighting [Updated]

The two men were killed while helping their teammates maneuver.
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Lance Lawrence and Andrew Webber
Lance Lawrence (left), a Marine veteran; and Andrew Webber (right), who graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, were killed on July 29 while fighting in Ukraine. (Photos courtesy of Ryan O’Leary on Twitter and a GoFundMe campaign for Webber)

Two U.S. military veterans were killed in Ukraine late last month as they fended off intense Russian attacks so their comrades could maneuver, according to Ryan O’Leary, a U.S. Army veteran who leads foreigners in Ukraine’s 59th Motorized Brigade.

Andrew Webber, who graduated from the U.S. Military Academy, and Lance Lawrence, who served in the Marine Corps were both killed on July 29, O’Leary recently tweeted.

“Andrew brought a lot of knowledge to the table in planning and operations,” O’Leary tweeted on Tuesday. “As well as a cool head on the actual operations. His smile, humor, and caringness will be missed. He leaves behind a caring wife and daughters.”

Lawrence had been shot in the arm two weeks before he was killed, but he was determined to stay in the fight, O’Leary told Task & Purpose.

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“He was one of the smartest machine gunner guys I knew and was still humble,” O’Leary said. “He had a grounded attitude that kept my other men anchored on and off operations.”

O’Leary is a combat veteran who deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan with the Iowa Army National Guard and then volunteered to fight with Kurdish forces against the Islamic State militant group. He said he has been in Ukraine since February 2022.

“I’ve been in this war for going on 18 months and had over seven years of combat experience previous to this,” O’Leary said. “So, I’ve been around a lot of death and loss. Losing Lance and Andrew are some of the few that just hit differently than normal due to their personalities, livelihood, inspiration, and commitment.”

At least 16 Americans have died in Ukraine since Russia’s full-scale invasion of the country began in February 2022. Many of those Americans served in the U.S. military, including Marine veteran Ian Tortorici; former Green Beret Nicholas Maimer; and Daniel Swift, who served with Navy SEALs before deserting in 2019.

Andrew Webber
An undated photo of Andrew Webber in Ukraine in 2023. (Courtesy of Andrew Webber’s family)

Webber served in the Army as a Chemical Officer from May 2006 to November 2009 and then as an Infantry Officer until July 2014, Army spokeswoman Heather J. Hagan said on Thursday.

He deployed to Iraq from October 2006 to January 2008 and then to Afghanistan from November 2008 to November 2009 and again from June 2012 to March 2013, Hagan said.

The former Army captain’s military awards include the Bronze Star medal, Purple Heart, Afghan Campaign Medal with two campaign stars, Iraq Campaign Medal with two campaign stars; four Army Commendation Medals, Army the Achievement Medal, Meritorious Unit Citation, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, four Overseas Service Ribbons, the  NATO Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge, Ranger Tab, Combat Action Badge, and Parachutist Badge.

Webber’s family issued a statement on Thursday confirming that he had been killed in Ukraine on July 29. While in the Army, Webber served as a platoon leader and basic training company commander;  a troop commander in the 173rd Airborne Brigade; and a plans officer at Grafenwoehr, Germany;Germany.

He will be remembered as a loving husband, father, brother, and son, the family statement says.

“His incredible compassion, friendships spanning the globe, and high wit, did not allow him to turn a blind eye to human suffering,” the statement says. “He would use his resources as a West Point graduate, Northwestern Law School Doctorate, and his immense knowledge of history, culture, and language to protect others at the cost of his own life.”  

“Andrew hailed from Pacific County, Washington, but has since traveled the world,” his family’s statement continued. “He could not help but to make lifelong friends with nearly everyone he encountered. Andrew would say his greatest adventure was the role of husband and father and we ask that you pray for his beloved wife and young children.”

Lawrence served as a machine gunner in the Marine Corps from August 2013 to November 2016, leaving the Corps as a private first class, according to his service record which was provided to Task & Purpose on Thursday.

He deployed to the Red Sea and Mediterranean Sea from January to July 2015, and his last duty assignment was with 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

Lawrence’s military awards include the National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, and Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation.

Lawrence’s family issued a statement on Thursday saying that he will be remembered as a loving son, brother and friend.

“He was known for his unwavering determination, infectious smile and compassionate nature.” his family’s statement says.  “He was a down to earth person who gave a helping hand to anyone who needed it. He was an extremely intelligent individual. Lance went to Ukraine at the beginning of this year in February. He absolutely loved the Ukrainian people.”

UPDATE: 08/03/2023; this story was updated with former Army Capt. Andrew Webber’s service record.

UPDATE: 08/03/2023: this story was updated with a statement from Lance Lawrence’s family.

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