Jericho Skye Magallon was passionate about the military while growing up in Las Vegas, recalled his father Ralph, who provided parental consent so that Jericho could join the Army at 17 years old.
“I didn’t try to talk him out of it, of course,” Ralph Magallon, who now lives outside of Miami, told Task & Purpose. “I was very proud of him.”
Jericho became a Military Police Officer stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and he eventually served with the Nevada Army National Guard, his father said. The National Guard Bureau confirmed that Jericho served with the 137th Military Police Detachment. He processed out of that unit in 2016.
Years after leaving the Army, Jericho became one of the many veterans who went to Ukraine to fight against the invading Russians. It was only four days into the war that Jericho told his father he was leaving for Ukraine.
“I was a little jarred by it, but I knew him,” Ralph Magallon said, “My son was always wanting to help people, and for him military service was the only way to go. I took it with a grain of salt. I knew my son was bound and determined. He was going to go either way – with or without his family’s blessing, he was going to go. He was just that type of fella.”
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Ralph Magallon recently learned that Jericho, 28, was likely killed by a Russian drone strike earlier this month near Bakhmut, the site of fierce fighting. Although the Russians took some members of his unit prisoner, the American government has advised Jericho’s family not to get their hopes raised that he might still be alive.
The American consulate has told Ralph Magallon that many Ukrainian soldiers were killed while trying to retrieve the bodies of Jericho and his comrades. As a result, they don’t know if Jericho’s body will ever be able to return home.
Jericho’s death was first reported by the Ojai Valley News. At least 18 American veterans have been killed in Ukraine since Russia launched its latest invasion of the country in February 2022. Some fought along with other foreign volunteers, such as Jeffrey Jones and Ian Tortorici. Other veterans died providing humanitarian assistance for people in need, such as Nicholas Maimer and Pete Reed.
Ralph Magallon said his son had been thinking about going back into the U.S. military, but Jericho ultimately decided to go to Ukraine after the Russian invasion.
“He told me: ‘Dad, I have to go back. I can’t just watch these people being slaughtered,’” Ralph Magallon said.
Jericho first went to Poland and ultimately arrived in Ukraine, where he fought for 10 months with other foreign volunteers, his father said.
His family issued a statement saying that Jericho served as a squad leader with volunteers from Canada, England, Spain, Germany, and the Netherlands, all of whom he considered his “Band of Brothers.”
“Jericho always volunteered for the most dangerous of missions knowing that he was putting his life at risk and without any fear or regard for himself would march into enemy territory,” the family statement says.
In addition to taking care of his battle buddies, Jericho was also an animal lover who always made sure to rescue lost or frightened dogs and cats.
He came back home last year, but he kept in touch with the people he had served with in Ukraine, and they told him about all the losses they were taking from combat, Ralph Magallon said.
Ultimately, Jericho decided that he needed to return to Ukraine, said Jericho’s aunt, Juliann Esquivel.
“He had a guilty conscience,” Esquivel told Task & Purpose. “He felt like he had abandoned his fellow soldiers over there. So, he went back.”
Jericho was a principled man, and he felt it was his duty to help the Ukrainians against Russian invasion, said.
“He believed in freedom,” Esquivel said. “He believed that everybody should have the right to live the way they wanted to. He was totally against the Russians trying to take over Ukraine and the other countries around it.”
While in Ukraine, Jericho sent text messages to his father about atrocities that he had witnessed, Esquivel said. He also told his father about how grateful the Ukrainian people were that the international volunteers had come to fight against the Russians.
Esquivel said she is heartbroken over the death of Jericho, whom she loved as if he were her own son.
“He was a very tall, handsome young man,” she said. He’d come in and he’d hug me, and he’d look at the stove because I was always cooking something. I can still picture him sitting at the table, eating whatever I had.”
Ralph Magallon said his son was likely killed on either Sept. 4 or 5.
When he last talked to Jericho on Sept. 3, Ralph Magallon could hear gunfire in the background.
“Basically, he asked me if I would be the executor on his will,” Ralph Magallon said. “And of course, I said, well, I plan on going first. But I said, yes, I will do that. And he said: ‘Dad, I want you to know that if I do die on the battlefield, this is the way I wanna go.’ I almost sensed that he knew that it was going to be a dangerous mission coming up.”