A U.S. Marine veteran born in Ireland who later immigrated to the United States has been killed in Ukraine while repelling an assault by Russian troops that had broken through his unit’s line, a fellow American veteran told Task & Purpose.
Graham Dale was killed in close-quarters fighting on December 9. He was at least the 10th former U.S. Marine killed in Ukraine, according to a list compiled by Task & Purpose of U.S. veterans who have died in Ukraine since 2022.
On Dec. 9, Dale and a team of Ukrainian troops left the safety of their defensive fortifications to prevent a Ukrainian position that was surrounded by Russian troops from falling, said U.S. Army veteran Ryan O’Leary, leads foreign volunteers in “Chosen Company,” which is attached to Ukraine’s 59th Motorized Brigade.
“Instead of retreating or hiding, he ran into the combat,” O’Leary told Task & Purpose. “Dale killed multiple enemy soldiers before being wounded. The enemy assault was stopped due to his actions, and those of the Ukrainians with him which prevented the line from collapsing.”
Dale was wounded in the fighting, O’Leary said. As he tried to get back under cover, he was hit again after a Russian drone dropped two munitions. His teammates had brought him back to safety and performed life-saving measures on him, but he died of his wounds.
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Originally from Dublin, Dale moved to Texas in 2000 and became a dual Irish American citizen, according to the Irish Independent newspaper.
Dale later told the Irish Times, a separate newspaper, that he decided to join the Marine Corps following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
“I couldn’t sit by on the sidelines and watch these terrible events unfold like it was a daytime TV drama,” Dale told the Irish Times in 2008. “We were under attack and I felt it was my duty to step up to the plate, roll up my sleeves and fight to defend a way of life that was now mine.”
Dale enlisted in the Marine Corps in January 2002, and he went on to become a Mortarman, according to his service record, which was provided to Task & Purpose. He served in the Marines until January 2008, leaving the Corps as a corporal. His military awards include the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal M Device, National Defense Service Medal.
After deploying to Iraq, Dale released a book in 2008 based on a diary that Dale kept while in the war zone, The Green Marine: An Irishman’s War in Iraq written with Neil Fetherstonhaugh. He told the Irish Independent in 2008 that he remained 100% loyal to the Marine Corps, but he became frustrated in Iraq about how under-resourced and understrength his unit was.
“Without those resources on the ground and in the streets then we’re just S.O.L,” Dale told the newspaper.
Task & Purpose was unable to reach Dale’s family for comment on Monday.
The State Department does not provide an estimate of how many Americans have died in Ukraine since Russia’s latest invasion in February 2022. One Russian military blogger puts the number of Americans who have died there since the Russian invasion at 45.
Initially, Dale traveled to Ukraine to provide humanitarian assistance for those in need, he told KXAN-TV in Austin for a May 2022 story. Once there, he linked up with other veterans.
“You realize that you are the boots on the ground. You are that line in the sand,” Dale told the television station at the time. “There is no magic government button that presses, and millions of resources make themselves available. Generally speaking, it’s civilian volunteers stepping up to the plate. (They) are the ones that help most with the people during and after these kinds of disasters and wars.”
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