The war in Ukraine has gone for six months now, resulting in thousands of casualties, including hundreds of fighters who have traveled from other nations to assist Ukraine’s troops.
Unfortunately, one of those casualties can be traced back to Glendive as local residents Harry and Shirley Young received word last week that their son, Bryan Young, had been killed in action on July 18, reports The Glendive Ranger-Review.
Bryan was confirmed KIA alongside three other foreign fighters: fellow American Luke Lusyszyn, Emile-Antoine Roy Sirois from Canada and Edvard Selander Patrignani from Sweden. The four men were stationed in a town in the eastern Donetsk Region of Ukraine when they were ambushed by Russian tank fire following an hours long battle.
Harry said Bryan decided to go to Ukraine to help the Ukrainian army defend their country after he heard of Russia’s invasion. Bryan himself noted the oath he took when he enlisted in the U.S. military in 1988 as his reason for going.
“I’m often asked what I’m doing here in Ukraine, but this has been my profession since 1988: I took an oath to protect the Free World,” Bryan wrote in one of his most recent social media posts.
The Youngs originally lived in California, where Bryan was born in 1971, but moved to Wilton, N.D. in 1978. Bryan enlisted with the military in 1988, making a career out of it while his parents moved to Glendive. He eventually received a medical discharge after getting into a motorcycle accident, Harry said.
In 2015, Bryan surprised everyone when he decided he wanted to go on a bike ride across the world. Harry said that Bryan was always interested in seeing all sorts of places across the U.S., so wanting to ride across the country was no big surprise, but across the world was a bit more unexpected.
“He was always interested in seeing places around the country, wanting to go here and there, but it was kind of a surprise,” Harry said.
Along his trip, Bryan met up with his brother in Europe, where the two rode together for some time, and he volunteered at animal shelters along the way for significant amounts of time.
“From his early childhood up to his death, he loved animals. On his ‘world tour,’ you could say, he would stop and volunteer at animal shelters for a few weeks or even a few months sometimes,” Harry said.
Eventually, Bryan made it to the Republic of Georgia in 2019 and fell in love with the country. He decided to make it his home and even got married there in December of 2020.
Russia invaded Ukraine in February and Bryan traveled there in March to enlist as a volunteer fighter. At first, his family back in the states didn’t know he had joined the fighting, though his father eventually figured it out.
“I didn’t realize he was there until about mid to late-May. He kept in touch over the phone, it just took a bit to put it together he was there,” Harry said.
Earlier this month, Bryan’s unit was deployed to slow the Russian army’s advance, being tasked to clear out a ravine the Russians were using to cross a river. According to a report of the incident, the mission was successful, with the Russians retreating after suffering heavy losses, but not before the tanks fired on Bryan’s unit’s position. The first blast injured Lusyszyn and during a brief pause in the firing, Bryan, Sirois and Patrignani attempted to evacuate him, but all of them were then hit by the second shot.
Two others were wounded, but managed to evacuate.
“Taking advantage of the break between shelling, a decision was made to evacuate to the nearest shelter. During transportation, as a result of the direct impact of a tank shell, Brian, Edward, Emile, Luke received injuries incompatible with life,” the incident report reads.
Harry said that when he first heard of Bryan’s fate, he didn’t believe it and waited for confirmation. However, when he was contacted by some of Bryan’s military buddies, he realized that what he was told was the truth.
“At first, I wasn’t sure if it was real or not, you know, it’s war and there’s lots of misinformation in war and the Russians are experts at spreading it. Then some of his army buddies started contacting us through Facebook wanting to know about him. That’s when I realized it was true,” Harry said.
For now, Harry and Shirley are still waiting to figure out what to do next. Bryan has adult children from a previous marriage, with Harry saying his oldest daughter, who lives in California, is working with the Ukrainian government to make arrangements for Bryan’s body.