Three American men that were killed after volunteering to fight ISIS alongside the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria have had their remains returned to the United States. Jordan MacTaggart, 22, Levi Shirley, 24, and William Savage, 27 were returned to O’Hare International Airport in Chicago in Caskets, on Wednesday. They will be returned to their hometowns in following days.
None of the three men ever joined the U.S. military and were all killed in separate incidents. They all fought separately against ISIS as part of Kurdish guerrilla groups that opposed ISIS’ presence in Syria. The men died bravely and Kurdish groups made sure that their memories were honored by going above and beyond to see that they were returned home safely.
Kurdish forces could have easily sent the bodies to Turkey. However, they feared the request to send the men home would not be honored and instead shipped the deceased heroes hundreds of miles east to Iraq. From there the bodies were transported to Amman, Jordan, and finally Chicago. The return efforts were difficult and required participation from the men’s families, Kurdish forces, and the State Department.
Unfortunately, because the men were not affiliated with the Untied States Military they did not receive the welcome they deserved. They were transported home in plain gray caskets to their weeping families. Susan Shirley, mother of Levi Shirley, states that she wasn’t phased by the lack of activity around the home coming. She told reporters:
“You can do all the pomp and circumstance you want, but those families aren’t getting their sons back, either,”
She states that she is proud of her son for making the ultimate sacrifice to “fight for the right side” and that his memory will always live on through his heroic and selfless actions.
Shirley and MacTaggart will be returned to their respective families in Denver via train while Savage will be brought to his father in North Carolina.