John was the kind of guy who wasn’t afraid to stand by his ideals even if the world was against him. I learned this about him very quickly from early on. We first met early in 2015, in Daquq at the Peshmerga’s 9th Brigade. He seemed eager to get into the action and mix it up.

I remember talking to him and stating something rather bluntly about what we were up against, and with a devilish grin he replied, “Well, that’s why we’re here, right? Fucking warriors.” It caught me off guard because of how quick he was to respond and how sure of himself he was.

Our first engagement together, he maintained a calm and analytical demeanor. Maybe a tad bit complacent, but when it was time to work, the man got to it.

I was perched in the turret of my Humvee, overlooking Zahgar village—a Daesh-held territory. From the moment we entered the opposing village to set up an overwatch for the bulldozer constructing a berm line, we came under fire.

As rounds hissed past, my teammates in two other Humvees and I proceeded to engage via talking guns, with bursts to probable enemy firing positions. It was around 500 to 600 meters between us and them. Next thing I know, John has climbed up the backside of my Humvee, binoculars in hand. With little concern of exposing himself to enemy fire, he starts scanning for targets. Several minutes pass by and John shouts to me, “I think I’ve got something!”

“Call it out!” I yell back.

John proceeds to pinpoint a bunker in front of a building on the right side of the village.

Now, I can’t recall exactly the order of events, but through sustained fire on that location, combined with systematic sweeps over the village, intersecting our fields of fire, we achieved firepower superiority and maintained it throughout the day. It appeared we had gotten Daesh’s address, because it became routine. With little expenditure of ammunition for the remainder of the day, we were able to maintain control of the situation. During that time, John climbed into the turret and got a little piece for himself. Every time Daesh started feeling froggy, we would shut them up.