U.S. Army veteran Dalton Medlin died on Sept. 27 of wounds he sustained while fighting in Ukraine, according to Ryan O’Leary, a fellow U.S. Army veteran who leads foreigners in Ukraine’s 59th Motorized Brigade.
Medlin, whose call sign was “Gimli,” was wounded while leading a team on a reconnaissance mission of a heavily fortified Russian position, O’Leary tweeted on X.
Since the start of 2023, Medlin had served with “Chosen Company,” a group of military veterans fighting for Ukraine against invading Russian forces, O’Leary tweeted.
“He was brave, fearless, dedicated, and always placed his brothers first,” O’Leary tweeted. “He excelled as a grenadier and at soldiering in general. He stayed laser-focused both in and out of combat. His smile was contagious, as was his laugh. As a commander, I could not have hoped for a better soldier, friend, and brother.”
“I’ll cherish the time we had together Gims, and I’ll see you again, my brother,” O’Leary continued. “You can rest knowing Chosen will continue forward with the mission.”
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Medlin, 24, served as an 11B infantryman in the US Army from July 2017 to November 2021, leaving the service as a specialist, said Army spokesman Bryce Dubee.
His service record lists no deployments, and his military awards include the Army Commendation Medal, three Army Achievement Medals, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Defense Service Medal, and the Army Service Ribbon, Dubee told Task & Purpose on Monday
Medlin wanted to help people for his entire life, and he left the U.S. military because he felt it had become focused on politics rather than protecting the American people, his father Warren told Task & Purpose.
When Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, Medlin saved up enough money to go there, his father said.
“He loved Ukraine and the Ukrainian people because they were fighting for their own existence against a more powerful, evil country,” Warren Medlin said. “They embraced him. They loved him, and he loved them in return. He was a hero to them. He is a hero to me. He sacrificed his life for those who can’t protect themselves.”
The State Department does not have an estimate of how many Americans have died in Ukraine since February 2022.
“Our ability to verify reports of deaths of U.S. citizens in Ukraine is extremely limited. In addition, not all U.S. citizen deaths may be reported to U.S. authorities,” a State Department spokesperson told Task & Purpose.
More than 20 U.S. military veterans have died in Ukraine since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of the country in February 2022, according to open media reports.
At the start of the war, many American veterans felt compelled to go to Ukraine to fight the Russians or provide humanitarian relief because they saw the conflict as a fight between good and evil.
Since then, U.S. support for Ukraine has become a political issue and several Republican lawmakers have tried to cut off American military assistance to the country.
The recent temporary spending bill that funds the government through Nov. 15 does not include any money for Ukraine, and the Pentagon recently warned Congress that it is running out of money to replenish its stocks of weapons that have been provided to Ukraine.
Warren Medlin said that his son’s death transcends partisan politics. His son died fighting for people who love their country and are defending their way of life.
“It’s not divided over there,” Warren Medlin said. “These people are all united fighting one common enemy, and he loved that. My only regret is that I wasn’t there with him to protect him. But I’m proud of the courage and the honor that he displayed in his everyday life.”
Medlin’s family and friends are all proud of him, said his father, who added: “He didn’t die a coward. He died a hero.”
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