On the Front Line in Iraq with a Marine Veteran

On the Front Line in Iraq with a Marine Veteran

Marine Veteran Louis Park is on the front lines in Iraq with the Assyrian Militia known as Dwehk Nawsha (Aramaic for Self-Sacrifice). This Christian militia willingly fights alongside the Muslim Peshmerga in defense of their homelands against ISIS (Daesh).

The road to Iraq

Louis was deployed to Northern Helmand Province in Afghanistan during his time in the Marine Corps with the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines. When he returned home, he decided to go to Iraq and stand with the people who were fighting ISIS.

He began his journey to join the YPG, (the Kurds) in 2015, when a friend directed him to the Assyrians. He spent 6 months with them in 2015, and has been there 2 months so far this year. He has formed close relationships with the people.

Mortar attacks

Though attacks have not been as constant as other places in his military career, they have come  on occasion.

“Mortars and machine gun attacks. Every week if not every day. Had an attack here on the 2nd and got blown up but somehow survived, 120mm mortar hit pretty close and knocked me off my feet along with another volunteer. Repelled the attack easy though.”

The situation in Iraq is not a joke

I ran across Louis from reading another article in The Verge . It spoke of him playing Pokemon Go “on the battlefield.” But that was not exactly the case, and the article there and one in the Daily Mail has caused him some serious grief. He was forced to lock down his Facebook page because of the backlash.

“I posted me playing as a joke for my friends but I don’t want this to become a joke. It’s very real, what is happening here.”

Louis is passionate for people to understand what is happening in Iraq to the groups that Daesh/ISIS is trying to wipe out.

“Daesh is a real world wide threat. They are terrible people.”

Louis has encountered the refugees that have been displaced by the onslaught of ISIS. He has heard their horror stories of grief and loss, and what ISIS has done.

“Many of the refugees are broken. But the fighters here have a lot of spirit.”

Determination and Faith

In 2015, the Vicar of Baghdad told westerners not to join up with the Assyrians because they were “poor fighters.” He was wrong. Working side by side with the Peshmerga, they have the heart to come up against an enemy that is evil and threatens all that they know.

Determination and faith goes a long way in fighting such evil, without all the fancy equipment and weapons of the US Forces.

front line

Photo via Louis

What’s in a typical day?

A typical day for this volunteer includes,

“Stand our post on the front line at night and react to any situation accordingly. Suffer through the heat, sleep, eat. Do a bit of shooting or training or discuss admin things. Watch a movie or talk to people back home…Be ready for anything to happen, and hope the Mosul offensive comes soon. We have briefings when need be.”

The temperature in Dohuk, Iraq at midnight tonight was 89 degrees Fahrenheit, expected to get up to 111 degrees Fahrenheit on Monday. It is indeed “suffering through the heat” for these men.

Louis and his colleagues hope to enter the Mosul offensive when it occurs. They are ready to kick ISIS’ butt and kick it hard.