(NationalSecurity.news) As a former U.S. Marine and member of the Army National Guard with several combat tours under his belt, Harry M. knows a thing or two about warfare. And now he plans to use those skills against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, a.k.a. ISIS, and he’s taking his two sons with him, Fox News reported.
A divorced father of two, Harry, 49, a former police officer and staff sergeant in the Guard, had retired from the service to his home after serving numerous tours including one as a sniper team leader in charge of eliminating high-value targets in Ramadi, Iraq, in 2005.
But once his sons told him they were planning to travel to Kurdistan to battle ISIS, he says he knew he had to accompany them.
“‘We want to join with Peshmerga and we want to confront ISIS on our terms,'” Harry said his sons told him. “I’ve got over 20 years experience and I thought to myself, ‘I got two boys going, there is no way they are going without me.'”
Josh, 29, Harry’s oldest son, was a U.S. Marine machine gunner who served two tours in Afghanistan, one during the 2009–2010 surge in Anbar province.
“I don’t even watch the news anymore because I can’t imagine what those people are going through,” Josh said, regarding the Iraqis who have to deal with ISIS on a daily basis.
“At one point, you had the entire U.S. military protecting them, and then they were gone. And then another group of guys, ISIS, came in and just started slaughtering them by the thousands,” he told Fox News. “And there is nowhere to run. I couldn’t imagine that. And I sit at home. The war drew down. The war technically ended for conventional warfare, which put me and my brother basically out of a job. I’m still able to fight and the opportunity arose… James lit the fire… and I’m going. That’s it. I need to help out.”
His younger brother, James, 23, also served a pair of tours in Afghanistan as an infantryman. He registered for college when he returned from the second tour, but he still had a huge desire to serve. Also, he wanted experience as a combat cameraman. So about a year ago, he began planning a trip to Kurdistan, in northern Iraq, to document the war. After discussing it for months with his brother and father, they developed a mission plan: They decided that they would all go together to film and document what they could.
However, their new goal is to help defeat a group that has as its members some of the most lethal and brutal men on the planet.
“If the military, conventional forces were going, we’d go with them,” James said. “We’d sign back up, no problem. But they’re not. And that’s what it comes down to. They’re not and we’re capable and we’re going.”
For security reasons, the trio asked that their names not be revealed in full. However, they also said they were not concerned about getting into a legal morass with either the U.S. or Iraqi governments, since they really aren’t breaking any laws. Once in Kurdistan, they said they plan to register with the Regional Government and then be deployed under the guidance of KRG military leaders.
The State Department would not comment directly to Fox News regarding the trip. Rather, officials there merely acknowledged that American citizens have joined groups to combat ISIS.
Officially, the department said those efforts are “neither in support of nor part of U.S. efforts in the region,” while warning that “travel to Iraq and Syria remains very dangerous.”
It’s the U.S. government’s way of saying it does not endorse the trip, but neither does it prevent such trips.
James, his brother and his father flew to the Middle East the same evening they spoke to Fox News.
“Hey, I know how to survive in combat,” James said. “We are going to contribute on our level. My brother is a heavy machine gunner, my dad is a sniper, I was a rifleman… we are going to bring that together and present that to the Kurds and aid them in whatever way possible.”
“ISIS has threatened our nation and us individually. They came out and said every military member needs to watch out because we are coming for you. We are Marines. We are going to bring the fight to them,” he added.
All the men admitted that their family and friends were concerned for their safety. But they said they have done the best they could to ensure that loved ones would be taken care of.
“Worst-case scenario is one or two of us being killed,” Harry said. “And we would be fools to think that may not happen. We know that from being deployed. We have already accepted death and we’ve done everything we can to take care of our loved ones in case that happened.”
What’s more, in case they are ever surrounded, surrender would not be an option.
“I will not be captured,” he said, intimating he would take his own life if need be, so he goes out on his own terms. “I will not. I’ve seen the videos. Warfare is warfare. When you accept it, it actually becomes very easy. You just go in there and you fight to live. You never go into a gun fight or any type of fight with the expectation you are going to lose.”