This one-man got so much inspired from playing Call of Duty that he went in the shoes of a soldier and started to live to fight against one of the biggest terrorist organization of the planet, ISIS. While we were heating the heavens out of our phones while playing ‘First Person Games’ like COD (Call of Duty), PUBG (Player Unknowns Battle Ground), this guy took the game-play to the real-life and started shooting on the real battlegrounds of Iraq and Syria.
John Duttenhofer from Colorado was an amazing and addictive Call of Duty gamer. He was well versed with the functioning, handling, operations & strategies regarding weaponry and warfare. However, he wanted to take things to a newer level. Instead of killing terrorists on his game stations display, he wanted to materialize his skills and kill terrorists in real life. As a result, he decided to fight against ISIS.
He travelled to Syria in April-2018 and joined a movement in Raqqa to liberate that city from ISIS. He Joined Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) who work for the liberation of the country.
In a conversation with Daily Mail, Duttenhofer said “My mom tried to persuade me to stay home but eventually she learned that fighting me to stay would only make me go more rushed and unprepared,”
He further added, “On one hand, I selfishly wanted to fight ISIS. On the other, I wanted to be a part of something historic and groundbreaking. I wasn’t scared of dying or anything like that.”
Duttenhofer has been trying to go to Syria since 2015 after he read reading about the horrific crimes committed by members of the so-called Islamic State. He even sold his car and saved $7,000 (£5,000) for his travel cost etc. He also started regular cycling to become fit. He would even go to work on his cycle. Before flying to Kurdistan (Iraq), he bought combat gear.
He established contacts with members of the YPG & was to meet them on reaching Syria. On reaching Kurdistan, he came across many other volunteers who came there from across the world to fight ISIS. They would spend a few weeks at an academy learning basic Kurdish and undergoing weapons training before appearing on the battlegrounds.
Speaking about how he found himself entering the battlefield with an AK47, Duttenhofer credits that his experience of playing video games proved invaluable. On being asked about how he got inspired by the mobile game, he said to Daily Mail “Video games prepared me in a way for knowing strategies and how not to get killed.
Through COD I learned how to use cover and not to stand in the open. These moves weren’t something that I picked up because I was going out there to fight, but I played every day after school as a kid, for years. I am so much into it that I could sit down and put 13 hours in like it was nothing. I could spend more than half a day playing Call of Duty’.
In Syria, John underwent weapons training. He also learnt Kurdish with the help of other volunteers before being out on the field. During his training period, he would generally play Dungeons and Dragons during the day and would be chatting with friends for a good part of the day. However, at night, he would help the Kurdish soldiers in the liberation of the people and places by reoccupying empty buildings and retaliating forces of ISIS onslaught.
After operating in Syria for 6 months, he returned to his home. After his return, when he was asked about his experience, he said, that he has no guilt in accepting that he worked with liberation forces. He further said that the only thing he regrets is that he did not kill any terrorist in those 6 months.
Speaking about ISIS he said “[ISIS] is a group worse than the Nazis. They want to live the dark ages out again and I didn’t want to live in a world with them.”
ISIS (Islamic States of Iraq and Syria)is one of the biggest terrorist organizations of the world, operates in Iraq and Syria, spreading illegitimate dominance in the area excusing Islam religion. It is good news that the city of Raqqa has been finally 100% liberated from ISIS in October 2019.
Author: Keshav Kothari
A young CA Aspirant who is a writer and a photographer with the zeal to convey a positive perception through his work.