Former soldier to lead team of vets to fight Islamic State

By GREG SOWINSKI | The Lima News | Published: May 17, 2015

LIMA, Ohio (Tribune News Service) -- A 2001 Elida High School graduate who spent eight years in the Army is leading a team of warriors on a humanitarian mission to Iraq to fight the Islamic State group.

Sean Rowe left the U.S. Army five years ago but the love he has for his country remains as strong as ever.

He also knows the the Islamic State, an Islamic militant organization, is bent on harming Americans and other freedom-loving people in the world.

Rowe has hand-picked a team of veterans that goes by Veterans Against ISIS, many recently out of the military, to return to Iraq to help train and fight alongside local groups to rid the country of the Islamic State group. The team also will provide medical aid and supplies to the local fighters.

"This is something I feel compelled to do," Rowe said. "Women and children are being slaughtered over there. They need our help. I know we can make a difference."

The mission, which could last up to two years, is not sanctioned by the military and discouraged by the White House. The team will receive no support and will be on its own. Rowe's team includes two people trained in emergency medicine because they will not have access to military hospitals, medical helicopters or even high-end life-saving equipment.

Rowe admits the mission may sound a little crazy to the average person but he said every one of his 23 teammates believes in it. He said all but one have been in combat and none are afraid to die or fear Islamic State militants.

"I don't believe any of [the Islamic State fighters] are nearly as well trained as any of the people on my team. We are not afraid of those guys. The only people you see them capture are civilians. You can't capture someone who is not afraid to die. We are not afraid to die. If they capture us it will be our dead bodies," Rowe said.

The team mostly is made up of former soldiers and Marines. There are two former Army Rangers, he said.
"Most of these guys have done two combat tours," he said. "I picked guys who are fresh out and in great shape."

A departure date hasn't been decided and will not be announced to not jeopardize the team. Each member's identity has been kept secret with photos blacking out the faces of team members while providing a nickname and background on them.

None of the teammates will be paid. The mission is all volunteer and funds are tight. The team is seeking donations to fund the effort, which mostly is for medical supplies and daily living needs, Rowe said.

The team will rely on locals fighting Islamic State militants in Iraq to supply it with weapons because they cannot take their own weapons overseas. They also will rely on the locals for food and shelter Rowe said.

"It's going to be very dangerous," Rowe said.

(c) 2015 The Lima News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.