At a time when inflamed racial and political tensions threaten to further erode the most important elements that unite us, here is a story of a true patriot’s journey to return home amid an unprecedented global pandemic.
As a Master Sergeant in the United States Army for 20 years, serving in multiple war zones, I’ve fought alongside some incredible men and women of many races and backgrounds. Most recently, I was in Syria where I took part in the fight against the Islamic State. While there, I became friends with another man also fighting against the jihadis.
Michael Enright served in the Kurdish Army, our allies in the region and boots on the ground responsible for most of the fighting and dying over there. While part of his story has been shared most people are not aware of what I witnessed while carrying out operations in the region. On multiple occasions he showed extreme bravery and a commitment to defeating that brutal terrorist regime. He fought on the front lines day in and day out, and was nearly killed by ISIS snipers and mortar fire during multiple high-risk operations. He was ambushed and cornered in a room surrounded by Islamic terrorists for 19 hours only to narrowly escape and rejoin the fighting, taking him all the way through to the liberation of Raqqa where he personally arrested several ISIS terrorists.
But with COVID-19 dominating the headlines coupled with an upcoming presidential election, Michael’s story, while gaining interest among those who can help, this patriot is at risk of being forgotten by the nation he calls home. The current racial tensions threatening to further divide America are far less clear when fully embroiled in the fight against terror and oppression - and why as an African American soldier I am advocating on behalf of a white Englishman.
His story shows you don’t have to be born in a place to fight and risk your life for it.
It seems simple in yesteryear’s normal, but the most important thing two completely opposite men have in common is we both love and call America home. We believe, with every rudiment of our being, that America is a force for good and those values are not only worth fighting for but worth dying for too.
But, Michael is British born. He lived and worked in the U.S. as an actor, appearing in many hit TV shows like CSI, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Castle, and films like Pirates of the Caribbean, and Knight and Day. His decision to leave and join the fight against ISIS has left him with visa issues and stranded in Central America. Some might say his situation is of his own making, but I take counterpoint.
When I learned he left his budding acting career in Hollywood to join the fight against the evil ISIS aggression, it was a small, but powerful signal that Michael is a truly American patriot who embodied the values of our own servicemembers and understood how important our role in the world is and why it’s worth defending.
Since I’ve been home from Syria, I have had a little girl who is now turning two. But Michael is still unable to come home. Time has a familiar way of wearing on us all.
Though he is not a citizen and chose to leave on his own accord, which has amounted to a backlog of paperwork and left him in the doldrums without any word of when he might return to America, I believe it is not only an important showcase of America’s goodwill but emblematic of our values to bring him back to these still United States. However, Michael has slipped through the cracks of bureaucracy.
Often the people who have helped us fight Islamic terror are given a chance to live with us in America. In my view, that is unacceptable that Michael’s story be ignored and not given the same consideration and expediency as other patriots who’ve risked everything on behalf of the cause of freedom and liberty.
Consequently, it’s become increasingly clear that a political solution, rather than a bureaucratic one, may prove to be Michael’s best chance of forging a pathway home. He has enlisted an impressive and politically-diverse team from D.C. to Hollywood who have written letters to their Members of Congress, started a GoFundMe page, set up social media pages and conducted media interviews on his behalf - all to urge those in power to dust off his paperwork, pull out the stamp of approval, and welcome Michael back to the United States.
Not only do I call on President Trump and his team, but all Members of Congress who have documentation of his requests, and all Americans to join me in advocating for his return. Our friendship is not one defined by race or creed, rather by common belief in what it means to be American - and why it’s always worth fighting for. I gave 20 years of my life for our country and I will not be at peace until Michael is home.
Keith Caraway is a retired Master Sergeant, E8, United States Army.