(PRI) — Dean Parker was sitting on his couch one evening, relaxing after a long day at his job as a commercial painter. That's when he saw a news report about Kurds fighting on northern Iraq's Mount Sinjar, where ISIS had trapped thousands of people from the Yazidi religious sect.
“I made the decision right there after watching those news reports,” Parker recalls. “After watching it for an hour, I was very upset. And I was online booking a ticket.”
He packed body armor from a local military surplus shop, a sturdy pair of boots, clothes and his e-reader — loaded with a copy of Sun Tzu’s "The Art of War.” A month later, Parker was in Syria, fighting with Kurdish forces on the front line against ISIS.
Advertisement - story continues below
He says he didn’t tell his family until he was already in Syria. “They were worried, you know messaging me: 'Come home, come home.' I told them I can’t. Not yet, anyways,” Parker says. “And after a couple days it sunk in and at they were very supportive."