first published on July 22, 2016 by Will
A 24-year-old Colorado Man was killed in a blast in Syria on July 14th while fighting against Islamic State forces.
Levi Shirley was on his second combat tour in the Middle East in support of the YPG and Syrian Democratic Forces. According to his mother, he had been involved in at least a dozen gun battles against ISIS during his first trip. After returning home, he had a hard time adjusting to regular life. He told his family he was saving up for school, but in actuality, he used the money to get back into the fight a second time.
Shirley’s father served three tours in Vietnam, so it was only natural that he grew up wanting to serve something greater than himself. However, life had other plans for him. The Marines wouldn’t take him because of his terribly poor eyesight. Even after corrective surgery, he still couldn’t pass the exams.
Not to be deterred, Shirley linked up with the “Lions of Rojava” on social media, a group that facilitates and advises the influx of foreign volunteers looking to take up arms against Daesh in Iraq and Syria. Wanting to to be readily accepted, Shirley lied and said he briefly served as a Marine before being medically discharged.
Shirley died in the current ongoing battle in Manbij, Syria, an important logistics hub used by Daesh to bring weapons and fighters in from Turkey and send their illicit oil yields out for revenue.
The YPG released a statement on Shirley saying: “Hevale Agir (his Kurdish callsign) was known for his discipline and sense of responsibility… His style and personality were a source of strength, motivation, and morale for his friends. In the fight, Hevale Agir was known and respected as a brave and altruistic person.”
Levi Shirley may have never been a Marine, but he died like one… righteously fighting against evil for something greater than himself. Rest in peace, Levi.