American Volunteer Talks About Fighting ISIS Alongside the Kurds

AP Photo/Vivian Salama
AP Photo/Vivian Salama

Kurdish news agency Rudaw published an interview with American volunteer Jordan Matson over the weekend. Matson, a 28-year-old U.S. Army veteran from Wisconsin, said he had no combat or even overseas deployments with the Army, but he decided to travel to Syria and fight alongside the Kurdish YPG militia “because they stood by the United States for 10 years while my country was in Iraq,” and he wanted to “repay that debt.”

Matson said he has seen combat while working with the Kurds; in fact, he was wounded on his second day in the field, when ISIS assaulted his position at night, and he was hit by shrapnel from a mortar. “It was a six-hour fight until armored support arrived and drove them off,” Matson recalled.

Since then, he said he has fought in Jezira, Shingal, Serekanye, Tel Hamis, and Tel Tamar, several of which were successful operations to liberate towns held by the Islamic State.

Matson spoke very highly of his allies in the fight against ISIS. “I love the Kurdish people,” he said. “They are the only ethnic group in this region that wants to live in peace.” He said he felt like an “adopted son of Kurdistan,” and the Kurds had become his family and community.

“I have been shown nothing but love by Kurds everywhere and I am very grateful for the opportunity to help,” Matson declared.

He said he was aware of at least a hundred foreign fighters working with the YPG, spread between various units.  The U.S. government interviewed his family after he traveled to Syria, but Matson said they did not interfere with his effort to join the Kurdish militia.

He spoke of former British Royal Marine Erik Scurfield, a fellow foreign volunteer known among the Kurds as “Konstandinos,” as a close personal friend, and mourned his death in battle against ISIS in March. “It always hurts losing someone close to you, but that’s the way war is, unfortunately, and you strive on,” said Matson.

He said he intended to continue fighting until “ISIS has been crippled in the Kurdish areas,” at which point he will “take some time off for some rest.”