Marine veteran Joel David Beal was a standout among foreign volunteers who had come to Ukraine to fight against the Russians, said a fellow U.S. veteran who fought with Beal.
On one mission, Beal was driving a Humvee when another volunteer dropped an M320 40mm grenade launcher outside the vehicle, Ryan O’Leary told Task & Purpose on Monday. O’Leary leads foreign volunteers in “Chosen Company,” which is attached to Ukraine’s 59th Motorized Brigade.
“He got out of the vehicle, laid down fire with his rifle,” O’Leary told Task & Purpose. “Proceeded to get to the other side of the HMMWV [Humvee], pick up the 40mm and laid down some 40mm hate directly on the Russian position before hopping back into the HMMWV and driving off.”
Beal was killed on October 13 by mortar or artillery fire while trying to destroy a Russian BMP fighting vehicle with infantry inside that was attacking other members of Chosen Company, O’Leary said.
“He was a good person, disciplined, a good military soldier, a brother that we sorely miss,”O’Leary said.
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Task & Purpose was unable to reach Beal’s family for comment on Monday.
Beal served in the Marine Corps from 2006 until 2010 as an 0311 Infantry Rifleman. He deployed to Iraq in 2008, according to his service record, which was provided to Task & Purpose.
He left the Marine Corps as a lance corporal. His last duty assignment was with the 1st Intelligence Battalion at Camp Pendleton, California. His military awards include the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, two Sea Service Deployment Ribbons, the Iraq Campaign Medal; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and National Defense Service Medal.
The State Department has not said publicly how many Americans have died in Ukraine since Russia launched its latest invasion of the country in February 2022, but open sources put the number at 43.
More than 30 of those American citizens were U.S. military veterans, according to a list compiled by Task & Purpose. At least eight Marine veterans have died in Ukraine including Beal, retired Marine Capt. Grady Kurpasi, former Cpl. Ian Tortorici, and former Sgt. Cooper “Harris” Andrews.
Chosen Company is made up of volunteers from several different countries. Some of the Americans who have died while fighting in the unit include Andrew Weber, a former Army captain, and Marine veteran Lance Lawrence, who left the Corps as a private first class.
Beal’s death hits particularly hard because he was one of Chosen Company’s founding members, O’Leary said.
“But you know, we’re going to carry on, keep moving forward, and finish the mission like he started out to do,” O’Leary said.
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