A farmer from Saskatchewan, Canada, who had served two tours in Afghanistan, has reportedly died while fighting in Ukraine according to his family members.
On Nov. 6, Joseph Hildebrand died in the frontline city of Bakhmut, Donetsk region. According to a source in the battalion, his unit of foreign fighters had carried out a successful assault mission in the city, though several other members had suffered minor injuries.
While transporting their wounded to a frontline medical facility, the unit came under Russian artillery fire, killing Joseph and one other foreign combatant. However, sources indicate that their exact cause of death is unknown.
According to Joseph’s family, the remaining survivors contacted them with the news and that they are now protecting the bodies alongside their Ukrainian colleagues in hostile territory until plans can be made to remove them.
Joseph’s brother Jake spoke from his mother’s house near the Saskatchewan village of Herbert, saying: “We’re all here together at the farm, trying to get more information.”
“I’m 35 years old and I have to make arrangements for my brother’s body. This is as bad as it gets,” he added.
The Donetsk region’s besieged eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut was the location of a mission carried out by a dozen soldiers, some of whom were Ukrainian and others from South America, Jake claimed.
The city has reportedly been under increased attack from a number of directions by Russian forces over the past few days, according to news reports. The surviving 12,000 residents have gone more than two months without access to water, electricity, or gas.
Carissa Hildebrand, Joseph’s partner and mother of their 13-year-old daughter, said Joseph voluntarily left Canada on June 11 to assist Ukraine in its conflict.
“We literally couldn’t handle what was going on and wanted to help,” she stated.
However, Carissa said she was confused about her husband’s decision to go to war.
She also spoke of how she received a call on Nov. 6 around 7:40 a.m. Central Time Zone (CST).
“I answered it and it was somebody on his team,” Carissa said, adding that the caller informed her that Joseph had been killed in an assault.
“He was killed pulling other guys out that were injured,” she stated. “That’s exactly who he is. The most selfless man I’ve ever known.”
Jake said that his brother wanted to provide assistance in Ukraine despite the family not having close ties to the country. He praised his brother Joseph for joining the Canadian military and serving two tours in Afghanistan, calling him “incredibly brave.” In addition to participating in combat, he trained Afghan forces, Jake added.
Joseph’s cousin Carl said: “He just made up his mind and went,” adding that Joseph cherished his time with his family and was “extremely hardworking.”
Joseph’s former team member in Afghanistan, Sergio Aburto, referred to “Hildy” as a true warrior and someone who could be trusted in perilous circumstances. As members of an operational mentoring and liaison team, they travelled abroad between 2009 and 2010 as a small group.
He added that veterans of the Canadian Forces, who served alongside Joseph, have banded together in an effort to give him a proper military funeral and to support his family following hi passing.
Mr Aburto asserted that men like Joseph, who wish to fight for humanity, do not receive support from their home nation if or when they do so.
“I just hope he went out the way he wanted to go and, to me, if he was going to pass in this lifetime it would have been in combat,” he stated. “But it’s sad because now, is his family going to get taken care of? God, no, because you’re going over there almost like mercenaries but with good intention.”