A Marine machine gunner veteran who went to Ukraine in February as a volunteer was killed in July, becoming at least the sixth Marine veteran to die in the war with Russia.

Lance Lawrence was killed July 29 in what a State Department spokesperson told Marine Corps Times was a drone attack.

Lawrence served in the Marine Corps from August 2013 to November 2016, as a machine gunner, and left as a private first class, according to Marine spokeswoman Yvonne Carlock. He deployed from January 2015 to July 205 to the Red Sea and Mediterranean Sea.

His awards included the 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 Carlock.

He told his comrades in Ukraine that he had worked as a contractor after leaving the Corps but before coming to Ukraine in February, Military.com reported.

Ryan O’Leary, the commander of Lawrence’s company of foreign volunteer fighters, said in an Aug. 2 post on X, formerly known as Twitter, “He was not a mercenary out for blood or excited for combat. He came because he thought what was happening in Ukraine by Russia was wrong.”

Two weeks before his death, Lawrence had been shot in the arm, O’Leary told Task & Purpose, but he was determined to stay in the fight.

“He was known for his unwavering determination, infectious smile and compassionate nature,” Lawrence’s family said in a statement quoted in Task & Purpose. “He was a down to earth person who gave a helping hand to anyone who needed it. He was an extremely intelligent individual.”

The statement added that Lawrence “absolutely loved the Ukrainian people.”

The other Marine veterans known to have died in the war in Ukraine are former Cpl. Ian Frank Tortorici, 32; former Sgt. Cooper “Harris” Andrews, 26, killed in April; former Cpl. Pete Reed, 33, killed in February; and retired Capt. Grady Kurpasi, 50, and Willy Joseph Cancel, 22, each killed in April 2022.

Irene Loewenson is a staff reporter for Marine Corps Times. She joined Military Times as an editorial fellow in August 2022. She is a graduate of Williams College, where she was the editor-in-chief of the student newspaper.

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