In February of this year, United States Army veteran Nicholas Warden, 29, went to Syria to join the YPG — the primarily-Kurdish, U.S-backed militia known as the People’s Protection Units. Last week, he was killed by ISIS forces on the outskirts of Raqqa.
A former American soldier who deployed to Afghanistan twice before fighting with the French Foreign Legion and taking on Boko Haram in Sudan, he was honored by the Kurdish force through a video posted on their social channels. In it, he explains what inspired him this past winter to trek to the Middle East on his own, and risk his life:
“My name is Nicholas Alan Warden … I’m from Buffalo, New York. I was born on June 17, 1988. I joined the YPG to fight ISIS because of the terrorists attacks they were doing in Orlando and San Bernardino. In Nice. In Paris. I have a high school education. I received military training and tactics and language training in the YPG. I’d like to say hi to my parents in New York …”
Another American, a non-veteran, one-time volunteer medic named Robert Grodt, from California, was also killed while fighting for the YPG.