US Marine veteran killed in Ukraine comes home

The body of Ian Frank Tortorici, a local U.S. Marine Corps veteran killed by Russian forces while off duty in Ukraine last month, is back home.

Flanked by his family and accompanied by a procession spearheaded by the organization Honoring Our Fallen, the 32-year-old's body was flown in from Ukraine, where he was serving as a member of the Ukrainian International Legion, when he was among several people killed during a missile strike at a popular pizza restaurant in Kramatorsk on June 27.

"He was the most selfless, bravest, kindest, unassuming and off-center person on the planet and hated for anyone to know it. His name was Ian Frank Tortorici, my middle son" Tortorici's father, Jon Frank, wrote in an earlier Facebook post following the announcement of his son's death. 

Tortorici left his job at U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement in April 2022 and enlisted in the Ukrainian International Legion, following a calling to fight the Russian invasion of Ukraine, where his girlfriend lived.

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Ian "Frank" Tortorici / Family-provided photo

He fought on the front lines and helped provide medical care to soldiers and civilians.

Tortorici's brothers remembered him as a kind and giving person who cared deeply for others. 

"He never wanted credit, he just did things for their own, their own good," Taylor Frank said. 

"He found a cause, and a reason to go fight," Anthony Frank Tortorici said.

While the U.S. State Department has discouraged Americans from volunteering in Ukraine, many retired Marines have joined the legion. 

"That's just who he was, very giving… and I am just so sad to see him go," his mother Sochi Frank said.

At least 25 Americans have died fighting in Ukraine, about half of them, retired U.S. Marines.

Just days after the missile attack, Ukrainian authorities arrested a man they accused of helping Russia direct the strike that wounded 61 others.

Kramatorsk is a front-line city that houses the Ukrainian army’s regional headquarters. The pizza restaurant was frequented by journalists, aid workers and soldiers, as well as local residents.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.