A Jacksonville native took his love for freedom overseas where he volunteered to join the fight in Ukraine to defend against Russian forces.
Edward Wilton’s ancestors grew up in Ukraine and the 22-year-old wanted to protect the country with the Ukrainian Special Forces. He left for Ukraine in April last year.
Sadly, the story of service ended in the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut on April 7th. Family members told Action News Jax his service and burial will be held at a Mandarin church on Thursday.
Wilton was a US Army soldier who trained at Fort Benning in Georgia. Beyond his love for service, Amy Broome, Wilton’s mother, said he also loved football, family, and God. But, above all, she said he had a passion for service.
“Honor was everything to him and he did what he thought was right. And he fought for something he believed in — and that was freedom for all.”
The ongoing fight against Russians in Bakhmut, Ukraine, is the bloodiest and longest since the war began. Russia has still not taken possession of the entire city despite relentless bombardment.
“No mom wants her son to go. Especially active war situation,” Broome said. “That was just his character to protect people and do the right thing in the face of people who he felt weren’t doing anything to help.”
A statement sent to Action News Jax by the U.S. Department of State said, “We offer our condolences to the families of all whose lives have been lost as a result of Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified war against Ukraine...[but] we reiterate our message that U.S. citizens should not travel to Ukraine due to the active armed conflict and the singling out of U.S. citizens in Ukraine by Russia’s security officials...”
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The Associated Press reports at least nine Americans died while fighting in Ukraine.
Wilton was contracted to come home from Ukraine in October.