Families of US vets killed in Ukraine urge Congress to continue the fight

More than 30 US veterans have died in Ukraine since February 2022.
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US veterans killed in Ukraine
From left to right: Andrew Webber, Lance Lawrence, and Jericho Skye Magallon, three U.S. military veterans who have been killed in Ukraine. (Photos courtesy of Karla Webber, Terrie Lawrence, and Ralph Magallon)

Karla Webber is one of five family members of American military veterans killed in Ukraine who have come to Washington, D.C., to plead with lawmakers to approve more military assistance for the Ukrainians.w

Webber’s son Andrew, graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York, and went on to deploy once to Iraq and Twice to Afghanistan. He left the Army as a captain and his military awards include the Purple Heart and Bronze Star.  He was killed by the Russians in July while serving with Ukraine’s 59th Motorized Brigade. 

“He definitely was not a glory-seeking person,” Webber said. “His interest was in saving lives, always, and trying to help where he could.”

Webber’s son is one of more than 30 American veterans who have died in Ukraine since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of the country in February 2022. She said that she is convinced that her son would still be alive if the Ukrainians had more artillery shells, rifles, long-range radios, and other equipment that they desperately need.

She also said she wants lawmakers to understand the moral dimensions of their decisions on whether the United States should continue to help Ukraine.

“If we don’t want them to win, then we move forward like we are – with band aids – and we sit back and we watch thousands and thousands of people including Americans die until it’s over,” Webber said.

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Webber and the other families will meet with members of Congress on Wednesday and Thursday as part of the trip, which was organized by The R.T. Weatherman Foundation, a group of U.S. veterans, relief and humanitarian workers, and Ukrainians that provides support to the families of Americans killed in Ukraine. The group recovered the remains of retired Marine Capt. Grady Kurpasi in Ukraine after a monthslong search.

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)

Although the United States has provided Ukraine with more than $44 billion in military assistance since 2022, those funds are now exhausted with no clear source of further funding. Republicans in both the House of Representatives and the Senate have said they will not approve President Joe Biden’s request for $110.5 billion for further military assistance for Ukraine unless the White House strikes a deal with lawmakers  on  funding and policy changes at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Terrie Lawrence’s son Lance, who served as a machine gunner in the Marine Corps, was killed alongside Andrew Webber in the same battle. She too has come to Washington, D.C., to advocate for continued U.S. support to Ukraine.

“I am going to honor my son Lance,” she said. “I hope his sacrifice for freedom was not in vain.”

When he was in Ukraine, Lance told Terrie that his machine gun team needed several kinds of equipment, including medical supplies such as tourniquets, pressure dressings and IV supplies.

Lawrence said her son felt compelled to fight in Ukraine after one of his friends sent him videos of Russian atrocities at the start of the war. He also believed that Russian President Vladimir Putin intends to reclaim all territory that was once part of the  Soviet Union, meaning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is likely  just the first of many conflicts.

Once Lance Lawrence got to Ukraine, he found an intense camaraderie with his fellow brothers in arms, his mother said.

“He was willing to die for his fellow soldiers,” she said. “It’s like a brotherhood, a family. That’s how they feel when they’re with each other. That sacrifice was worth it to him.”

Jericho Skye Magallon
Army veteran Jericho Skye Magallon was killed in Ukraine in September 2023. (Photo courtesy of Ralph Magallon)

Alison Yendell decided to travel to Washington, D.C., to speak on behalf of her son Jericho Skye Magallon, an Army National Guard veteran who was killed in Ukraine by a Russian drone strike in September. His body has not been recovered.

Since her son’s death, she has received death threats from Russian trolls, who also sent her messages claiming they mutilated her son’s body and fed it to dogs.

“As a mother living with this, and with them not retrieving my son’s body, you have to wonder: Is this true?” Yendell said.

Yendell said that she hopes that speaking with members of Congress helps to persuade them to continue to support Ukraine so it can finally win the war. She also said she wants to talk to lawmakers about her son, whose brothers in arms nicknamed him “Shepherd” after he arrived in Ukraine, epitomizing the type of man he was.

Within days of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Yendell called her son, who was at the passport office in Los Angeles preparing to go to Ukraine.

“He explained it’s like everyone watching bullies on a playground beating up someone, and everyone is standing around watching,” Yendell said over her tears. “He said: I won’t be one of those standing, watching. I have to go and help. He really believed he could make a difference.”

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