Veteran Lance Cpl. Joel David Beal had been fighting for Ukraine with the volunteer group Chosen Company since February or March, company commander Ryan O’Leary told Marine Corps Times on Nov. 24.
While fighting in Pervomais’ke in Donetsk Oblast, Beal was hit by a mortar round after jumping out of his trench in an attempt to destroy a Russian infantry vehicle that was attacking his comrades, O’Leary said.
“He was just fearless,” O’Leary said.
In response to a Marine Corps Times query about whether Beal had been killed in Ukraine, a State Department spokesperson on Nov. 22 confirmed the death of a U.S. citizen in Ukraine on Oct. 12 but declined to provide more details, out of respect for the family’s privacy.
Beal served in the Marine Corps from 2006–2010, leaving as a lance corporal, according to information provided by Corps spokeswoman Yvonne Carlock.
A rifleman, he deployed to Iraq from June 2008 to October 2008. His awards included the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon (twice), Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and National Defense Service Medal.
His final duty assignment was 1st Intelligence Battalion at Camp Pendleton, California.
Beal’s death was first reported by Task & Purpose. Marine Corps Times could not get in touch with Beal’s family.
In Chosen Company, Beal’s callsign was Gander, though O’Leary said he doesn’t know the origin of the name. Beal was close with fellow Marine veteran Lance Lawrence, who was killed in July, according to O’Leary.
Beal volunteered for every mission, O’Leary said. On one mission, when Beal was the driver of his team’s Humvee, he noticed one of his teammates had dropped a 40 mm grenade launcher near the Russian position.
Beal dismounted the Humvee and circled to the other side of it while shooting at the Russian position, according to O’Leary. The Marine veteran picked up the grenade launcher and lobbed rounds at the Russian fighters as he returned to the driver’s side, “and then just drove off like it was nothing,” O’Leary said.
“He had conviction in what he was doing, and he lived through that conviction,” O’Leary said.
Beal is at least the seventh U.S. Marine veteran killed in the war in Ukraine.
Other Marine veterans known to have died in the war are Lawrence; Ian Frank Tortorici, 32, killed in June; Cooper “Harris” Andrews, 26, killed in April; Pete Reed, 33, killed in February; and 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.