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Marine veteran from Vandalia killed in drone attack in Ukraine

Ukrainian soldiers assigned to the Yavoriv Combat Training Center attend a Ukrainian Armed Forces Day ceremony Dec. 6, 2017. (Sgt. Alexander Rector/U.S. Army)

A 28-year-old Marine veteran from Vandalia died late in July while serving in the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

Lance Allen Lawrence of Vandalia died on July 29 while serving in an operation in the Ukrainian Armed Forces. His unit was the “Chosen Company,” part of Ukraine’s 59th Motorized Brigade, according to a GoFundMe set up for his family.

The U.S. Department of State confirmed the deaths of two unnamed U.S. citizens in a drone attack in Ukraine on July 29, 2023 when reached for comment on Lawrence on Monday. The State Department has been in contact with the family and is providing consular assistance, a spokesperson said.

“Lance was a loving brother and son, known for his bravery and passion. He possessed unwavering determination and was extremely intelligent. Lance enlisted in the Ukrainian Armed Forces earlier this year, as this cause was important to him. Sadly, he was killed in action during a recent operation,” Lawrence’s obituary read.

Lawrence graduated from Vandalia Butler High School in 2013, joining the U.S. Marine Corps after graduation. Lawrence served in the Marines from 2013 to 2016. He achieved the rank of private first class after serving for three years, which was confirmed by Capt. Ryan Bruce, a spokesman for the Marine Corps, for Stars and Stripes, an American military newspaper. He deployed to the Red Sea and Mediterranean Sea in 2015 and last served with the 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

His awards included a National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon and Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation, according to Bruce.

“He was providing cover fire under heavy enemy fire for fellow Chosen Company soldiers when he was wounded,” said Ryan O’Leary, a U.S. Army veteran leading the Chosen Company, on social media.

“He came because he thought what was happening in Ukraine by Russia was wrong,” O’Leary said on Twitter.

In addition to Lawrence, another member of the Chosen Company-Andrew Irvin Webber, a former Army officer-was also killed in action during the same incident as Lawrence, according to Stars and Stripes. Webber enlisted in the Ukrainian armed forces in May, volunteering with the 59th Motorized Brigade, according to his LinkedIn page. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., in 2005 and served in the Army as a chemical officer and infantry officer for a decade.

He was deployed to Iraq and twice to Afghanistan and held the rank of captain at the end of service, according to Heather Hagan, an Army spokeswoman. His numerous awards include a Bronze Star medal and a Purple Heart.

Lawrence is survived by his parents, three siblings, and numerous other family members. A celebration of life is being planned for Lawrence at a later date, according to his obituary.

The war in Ukraine is believed to have claimed at least 16 American lives, but no official count is available.


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