The two Americans killed during an intense battle with Russia on the frontlines in Ukraine have been identified as more details surrounding the “ambush” are revealed.
Luke “Skywalker” Lucyszyn and Bryan Young were among a group of Americans, Canadians, and Swedish citizens killed on July 18 when they were hit by a surprise attack by a Russian tank in the eastern Donetsk region.
The Ukrainian commander in charge of the foreign fighters’ squad, Ruslan Miroshnichenko, confirmed the identities of the Americans along with Canadian Emile-Antoine Roy-Sirois and Edvard Selander Patrignani of Sweden. The group were killed when the Russian tank fired on the special operations force, Miroshnichenko told Politico.
The group had been deployed to the village of Hryhorivka, two miles northeast of Siversk, where they were attempting to halt Russia’s advance by clearing a ravine where its forces were attempting to cross.
“They did it successfully. But at the end of the mission they were ambushed by Russian tanks,” Miroshnichenko said.
According to social media posts by other foreign fighters, the group was preparing a defensive assault on incoming enemy infantry when the attack began. They refused to leave each other when wounded and died together.
“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 said.
According to a report obtained by Politico, as the group worked, they “came under heavy mortar fire from enemy artillery of caliber 120 mm or more and cluster munitions.”
The victims were “all fierce warriors with big hearts.”
In a Facebook post, Corey Heffernan, who said he fought alongside the men in Ukraine, wrote: “My brothers had served many successful missions and proved their bravery countless times.”
Heffernan’s post also appears to confirm the events leading up to the deaths: “Luke had been badly wounded by artillery and was knocked unconscious. His fellow brothers who were close to Luke’s position refused to retreat and cheered each other on in face of imminent danger and charged forward to help their fellow brother.” According to Heffernan, “Bryan was our best machine gunner, ruthless and fearless.”
An Instagram post from a Swedish foreign fighter said Luke Lucyszyn “always had something comical to add in every situation. We used to constantly imitate and make satire of famous people and dialects and often used to raise each other in laughter and noise. He was our expert on weapons and was a better soldier than many others. He was a true man who took care of his comrades. I will never forget him.”
Ten days before his death as he prepared to head to the east, Bryan Young posted to Facebook: “I often question why I am here. Well, this is my job since 1988. I swore to an oath to protect the free world.”
Russia is now spending much of its focus on its invasion of Ukraine in the eastern Donetsk region with the area already occupied by armed forces, but southern Ukraine is also a focus, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said last week.
The State Department has confirmed the deaths of two Americans but did not provide names.