DENVER (CBS4)– The bodies of two Colorado men returned home on Friday, several weeks after they were killed while fighting ISIS in Syria. The return of their remains has given their families some closure.
The families of both Levi Shirley and Jordan MacTaggart told CBS4 they are proud of the sacrifices they made as the caskets were removed from Amtrak at Union Station early Friday morning.
“He did more than I ever did. I got sent to ‘Nam, he went to Syria and that’s the difference. And we waited for this day for like, nine weeks. I wanted this day so bad but the last thing I wanted to see was my son come off of that train. It’s just like she said, a conflict of emotions just like getting kicked in the face. I just couldn’t believe it,” said Levi’s father Russell Shirley.
Shirley, of Arvada, Colorado, was killed by a land mine on July 14. MacTaggart, of Castle Rock, Colorado, died Aug. 3 while fighting in a squad that included two Americans and a Swede in Manbij, Syria.
Rep. Ed Perlmutter, a Democrat representing Colorado on Capitol Hill, was instrumental in getting Levi and Jordan back home. On Friday morning, Perlmutter presented their families with flags that had previously flown over the U.S. Capitol
Perlmutter said the process to get Levi and Jordan home was extremely difficult.
The State Department warns of the dangers of going overseas to fight the terrorist group but Jordan’s family said he knew the risks.
“Kind of a shock but at the same time not beyond his thinking, not beyond his courage and his humanity,” said Jordan’s mother Melissa MacTaggart.
The MacTaggarts hope this will bring more attention to the ongoing crisis.
“To me, if we could ask for anything, it would be that everybody doesn’t lose sight of what’s happening over there,” said Jordan’s father Robert MacTaggart.
They said the men died fighting for this country. While they weren’t part of the U.S. military, they believe Levi and Jordan are heroes.
“Levi and Jordan were American heroes and they deserve to be remembered that way. They volunteered to go over there and get shot at and I just want to live in a way my brother would be proud of,” said Levi’s sister Kate Shirley.
The Kurdish militia said the two men helped liberate many civilians in areas occupied by ISIS.