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June 16, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

The third American who the US State Department identified as missing in motion in Ukraine is a US Marine veteran, Grady Kurpasi, his spouse, Heeson Kim, confirmed to CNN.

The final time Kim and different shut buddies heard from Kurpasi was between April 23 and 24, George Heath, a household buddy of Kurpasi’s advised CNN.

Kurpasi served within the US Marine Corps for 20 years, retiring in November 2021. He selected to volunteer alongside Ukrainians in Ukraine however initially didn’t envision himself preventing on the frontlines of the conflict, Heath mentioned. 

“For him personally, he has a skillset that he feels he can provide again,” Heath mentioned. “He wished to go and assist the Ukrainian individuals. He wasn’t actually planning on preventing.”

The State Division mentioned they have been conscious of studies of a 3rd American who traveled to Ukraine to struggle in opposition to Russia who has been recognized “in current weeks” as lacking, State Division spokesperson Ned Worth mentioned throughout a press briefing on Thursday.

Worth didn’t give the title of the third reportedly lacking American, however mentioned the State Division was in contact with the household. 

Kurpasi arrived in Ukraine on March 7 and made it to Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv on March 21, Heath mentioned. Kurpasi and different members of the international legion have been tasked to man an commentary submit on the finish of April close to Kherson, across the time Kurpasi stopped speaking along with his spouse and buddies again within the US, Heath mentioned.

The international legion is a gaggle of international fighters who’ve volunteered to struggle alongside Ukrainians in opposition to Russia’s invasion of the nation. It isn’t clear if Kurpasi was a member of the international legion, however he was a volunteer preventing alongside Ukrainians, Heath mentioned.

Kurpasi and international legion troops manning the submit on the time began “receiving small arms hearth” on April 26, Heath mentioned, which means they have been getting shot at. Kurpasi and the opposite soldier “went to go examine what was taking place,” in order that they left the commentary submit, Heath mentioned. Grady then radioed to Ukrainian navy to start out firing again and “that was the final time anybody heard from him,” Heath mentioned. 

Heath has reconstructed this account from different international legion members he’s spoken with within the weeks since Kurpasi has gone lacking, he mentioned. 

The State Division advised Kim that Kurpasi was lacking in motion on April 28, Heath mentioned. The rationale he has been recognized as lacking in motion is as a result of his physique has not been discovered or recognized, he added. 

Kurpasi’s “aim was to not be in firefights doing stuff like that,” when he went to Ukraine, Heath mentioned. “It simply ended up being that method in the long run,” he added. 

Kurpasi joined the US Marines after September 11 and had 4 deployments in whole throughout his service, together with three to Iraq. He was a adorned service member who received the Good Conduct Medal 3 times, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal 3 times, the Purple Coronary heart medal, the Nationwide Protection Service Medal, and the International Struggle on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, amongst different awards, in accordance with his navy service report.

Heath described Kurpasi as a “nice chief.” Kurpasi was Heath’s platoon commander within the US Marines from 2012 to 2014, Heath mentioned. 

“He all the time led from the entrance. He all the time took care of his Marines,” Heath mentioned.

After retiring from the Marines final fall, Kurpasi utilized to a PhD program at Stanford College. He didn’t get into this system however was making use of to different doctorate packages whereas he was in Ukraine, Heath mentioned. 

Kurpasi’s final submit within the navy was at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. He was dwelling in Wilmington, North Carolina earlier than he left for Ukraine, one other household buddy, Jason Tokushige advised CNN.

Learn extra here.

CNN’s Jennifer Hansler, Clarissa Ward and Barbara Starr contributed reporting to this submit.

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