OTR Interviews

Military vet: Why I've volunteered to fight ISIS abroad

American Christian military veteran explains why he has traveled to fight alongside the Kurds against ISIS

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," February 19, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Now to Syria, where an American military veteran, a Christian, is fighting alongside the Kurds to defeat ISIS.

Jordan Matson joins us from Syria.

Jordan, why are you in Syria? Why are you fighting ISIS there?

JORDAN MATSON, VETERAN AND CHRISTIAN FIGHTING WITH KURDS AGAINST ISIS: Well, no major power for almost two years said they would send troops on the ground, so at a certain point, a certain amount of people getting genocided, the Yazidis and Christians, Obama saying it was an Iraqi problem, I decided if my government would do anything about it, I would, ma'am, and I came over here.

VAN SUSTEREN: What was your military experience? What did you do in the U.S. military?

MATSON: I was an airborne infantry, ma'am.

VAN SUSTEREN: And in terms of being in Syria, are there other American former veterans, or former active duty fighting ISIS?

MATSON: Quite a few, ma'am. Around 40 to 50 that I know of. But I've been on the front, so I don't know everybody that comes over here.

VAN SUSTEREN: What's it like?

MATSON: It's not like a conventional deployment. Usually, going from mud hut to mud hut. You don't have any essentials like sewage, electricity or anything. You have a basket of bread and usually some vegetables. And you go out and fight at night because no one likes to fight during the day. And you get within usually 100 meters to engage the enemy. It's quite a bit different over here.

VAN SUSTEREN: How armed are you?

MATSON: We just have the basics, ma'am, grenades, Kalashnikovs, machine guns. Could really use a lot of help from the United States if they'd start arming Syrian Kurds.

VAN SUSTEREN: What is the view among the Syrian Kurds towards the United States and towards the American policies, towards that region?

MATSON: They are extremely pro-western. They said nothing but good things about the United States. I mean, they've taken great care of me since I got here. They've been a very secular society. They treat Christians, Muslims, Yazidis as equals. No religion is imposed on each other. All the ethnic groups are treated the same. It's something they haven't had in this region.

VAN SUSTEREN: What is that flag behind you? The YPG, what does that mean?

MATSON: Your Protection Group.

VAN SUSTEREN: And what is that?

MATSON: It's basically the protection group for the Kurdish forces and anyone that lives under them in this region in what we call Rojaba (ph), or northeastern Syria.

(CROSSTALK)

VAN SUSTEREN: Jordan, when did you leave the United States and go to Syria?

MATSON: I flew out on September 20th, ma'am. And I flew into Turkey.

VAN SUSTEREN: And since you've been there, do you have any fears being there?

MATSON: I came here for a reason to defend these people, and curb ISIS's actions against my own nation back in my own country.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you get any sense of whether anyone is winning the war against ISIS, or is it just staying as it is, sort of as is, or are we losing the war against ISIS?

MATSON: It's a slow grind, ma'am. If we can increase our abilities to bomb the enemy, share intelligence with other nations that are trying to do the same effort, then I think it would increase -- or I should say decrease the amount of time it would take to destroy ISIS. But if we're just going to leave it to a random bombing here and there and training some troops in Iraq, then it's going to take a longer amount of time --

(CROSSTALK)

MATSON -- especially with their growth in Libya and Lebanon.

VAN SUSTEREN: Are you seeing actual fighting?

MATSON: Yes, ma'am, I've been here for over a month. Only in the back, in the rear for a week because another American was shot and wounded, my friend Matt. He's going home to get better. I'm returning to the front.

VAN SUSTEREN: And you say you've seen about 50 American former vets fighting over there against ISIS?

MATSON: At least, ma'am, yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: What does your family think about this, Jordan?

MATSON: At first, they're very skeptical. Their son is going to fight in the Syrian civil war. They didn't know anything about Kurdish militia or what their values were. But as they came to see what I was doing and why I was doing it, they came to support me.

VAN SUSTEREN: Can you confirm -- there were reports the other day that 45 Kurdish people were burned to death, and I don't know if it's been confirmed. Do you know anything about that at all?

MATSON: Negative, ma'am. I haven't heard anything about that.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Jordan, thank you very much. Hope you stay safe, Jordan.

MATSON: Thank you, ma'am. Go Packers.

VAN SUSTEREN: Go Packers, indeed.