The bodies of three Americans who died fighting Islamic State as volunteers for a Syrian Kurdish militia have begun a return home after a weekslong struggle by their families and the U.S. government to repatriate their remains.

The remains of Levi Jonathan Shirley, William Savage and Jordan MacTaggart had been held for weeks in Syrian Kurdistan after they died fighting against Islamic State forces. Later, they were driven across the region—in ambulances displaying their so-called martyr photos—before crossing into Iraqi Kurdistan, where the paperwork needed for the flights to the U.S. was secured, according to representatives of the semiautonomous Kurdish Syrian region of Rojava.

On Monday, the bodies of two of the men left the Sulaymaniyah international airport here in Iraqi Kurdistan bound for Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, said a spokeswoman for Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D., Colo.), who has helped in the repatriation process. The other body had been flown out on Sunday. Both flights were expected to have extended layovers in Amman, Jordan.

The long and logistically complex journey from the Syrian battlefield back to the U.S. revealed a simple truth: It is much easier for Americans to get to Syrian Kurdistan to fight Islamic State than it is for their remains to come home.