At home in the United States, every veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom cringes as ISIS advances across Iraq. On Tuesday Bill Neely of NBC traveled with about 100 Kurds as they prepared an offensive against ISIS. He was surprised to find dozens of American veterans amongst the Kurdish ranks.
These Americans were among the most recent wave of veterans who decided to join the fight in northern Iraq. Even though these vets are not working for the United States anymore they could be easily spotted as they were still wearing their American Infrared flags with pride. These grunts, like many who have served, felt compelled to dust off the uniform, tie up their combat boots and go back to that furnace of a desert, to complete the mission they began years ago.
For these men, their first taste of battle was reminiscent of those during OIF, as an IED exploded injuring three Kurds. This time there was no helicopter CASEVAC for the casualties, nor any apaches to provide air support. These men knew this before they came over to the fight; death is not a fear for men who were prepared to die years ago.
One of the veterans simply stated about ISIS, “They’re taking over cities that hundreds of Marines and Soldiers died for”
Their new mission is slightly different than it was when they were in the service. They were fighting for their brothers at their side, but this time it is to honor the ones they lost.