The two Americans killed in fierce fighting in Ukraine have been identified.
Luke Lucyszyn, 31, and Bryan Young were killed last Monday in the Donbas where Putin’s forces have been waging a campaign of fierce bombardment for months.
The pair were killed when a Russian tank opened fire during an hours-long battle on the Donetsk frontline.
The pair were killed along with Emile-Antoine Roy-Sirois from Canada and Edvard Selander Patrignani of Sweden.
Kathy Lucyszyn said she was informed of her so Luke’s death by the US State Department.
Ukrainian commander Ruslan Miroshnichenko also named the pair whose deaths were announced on Friday by the State Department who did not identify them.
Luke Lucyszyn, an American citizen with a Ukrainian grandmother, has been killed on the frontlines in the Donbas
Bryan Young was also killed in the attack in the Donetsk region, his commander has confirmed
The pair were killed along with Emile-Antoine Roy-Sirois (pictured right) from Canada and Edvard Selander Patrignani of Sweden
Corey Mesimer, 29, from Myrtle Beach in South Carolina, is a longtime friend of Lucyszyn, known affectionately as Skywalker, and said the fighter was moved to join the fight against Russia because his grandmother was born in Ukraine.
He told the New York Times: ‘That was something that he needed to do; he felt very strongly about it.
‘And even talking to him while he was over there, he felt like it was something that he needed to do for the country of Ukraine.’
Mesimer described his friend as the ‘life of the party’ and they previously played on the same paintball team in Myrtle Beach.
Lucyszyn had no prior military experience according to Mesimer which made some friends concerned, but he would regularly message them on WhatsApp where he detailed the heavy shelling and low supplies they were battling.
In their final conversation on July 8, Lucyszyn said: ‘I’ll be alright.’
Mesimer then responded: ‘Just glad you are okay homie. Stay safe.’
Miroshnichenko described Young as a ‘military man’ who was injured in a mission and moved to the reserves
The men had been part of a special operations force within the Territorial Defense of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, based near Siversk.
They were deployed two miles away to the village of Hryhorivka where they were tasked with clearing a ravine and take their firing positions.
Miroshnichenko told Politico: ‘They did it successfully. But at the end of the mission they were ambushed by Russian tanks.
‘The first shell injured Luke. Three guys, Edward, Emile, and Bryan, they immediately attempted to help Luke, to do first aid, and evacuate him from this spot. Then the second shell killed them all.’
Miroshnichenko described Young as a ‘military man’ who was injured in a mission and moved to the reserves.
The American citizen decided to come to UKraine because he ‘took an oath to protect the Free World’.
In a tribute on Facebook, the commander said: ‘It hurts so much to lose the boys. Emotions are overwhelming and I can’t find the words right now for the post they deserve.
‘I just want to say, they weren’t hiding, but they looked for every opportunity to be helpful, they all fully volunteered and did their combat duty on the front line till the end. Calmly and with honor.’
At least two other Americans have died fighting for Ukraine, while a further two known to be in Russian captivity and face possible execution.
Stephen Zabielski, 52, was killed in May after stepping on a landmine in Dorozhnyanka, Zaporizhzhia Oblast.
Americans Stephen Zabielski, 52, (left) and Willy Joseph Cancel, 22, (right) have already been killed while fighting for Ukraine
The father-of-five accidentally stepped on a tripwire while traversing thick vegetation in foggy conditions. He was working on a mine-clearing mission at the time.
A friend on Facebook said at the time that Zabielski had experience in the US Army, which appealed to young Ukrainian fighters.
‘He feared he wouldn’t be accepted given our age – but his experience got him the exception. Despite our age, we both knew we had a duty given our beliefs.
‘Steve remained in Ukraine and gave his life for Ukraine’s freedom. He was killed by a landmine. He was the child of Polish-Americans, so he knew and understood sacrifice.’
His death comes after that of US Marine Corps veteran Willy Joseph Cancel, 22, who was killed in April. How he died remains unknown.
Cancel was hired through a private military contracting company.
There are also currently two Americans being held captive by Russians: Alexander Drueke, 39, and Andy Huynh, 27, both of Alabama.
Two other Americans Alexander Drueke, 39, and Andy Huynh, 27, both of Alabama, are also being held captive by Russian forces
They were captured by Russian forces on June 11 when they didn’t return to a meeting spot after their group came under heavy fire in the Kharkiv region of northeastern Ukraine near the Russian border.
The two soldiers have appeared in various videos distributed by Russia since their capture. Previously, the men have appeared frightened, but look calmer in the latest video.
Drueke and Huynh traveled separately to help Ukraine, but became friends there in part because of their shared Alabama background, relatives have said.
The US State Department said it was looking into reports that Russian or Russian-backed separatist forces in Ukraine had captured at least two American citizens. If confirmed, they would be the first Americans fighting for Ukraine known to have been captured since the war began February 24.
Drueke’s mother, Lois ‘Bunny’ Drueke, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama spoke to her son on the phone last month for 10 minutes. Bunny said she believes parts of the conversation did not seem to be coming directly from him.
‘It was obvious that there were two things going on,’ she told Good Morning America (GMA). ‘One, I could tell when he was telling me something scripted. And the other things he was saying was just the regular conversation, just ordinary conversations that mothers really treasure.’
Previously, Drueke, a US Army veteran, and Huynh, a former US Marine, were warned by the Kremlin they faced possible execution for being what Putin’s government branded ‘soldiers of fortune.’
The Kremlin said the men were not eligible for the rights afforded to prisoners of war captured by rivals, because they hadn’t enlisted for the foreign army they were fighting with.