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A Call to Arms: Michigan Veteran Lands in Iraq to “Fight for Christ”

US Army soldier in Iraq

US Army

John Burger - published on 03/24/15 - updated on 06/07/17

Catholic felt compelled to defend Iraqi villages under threat from Islamic State

Brett Felton had tons of training in the US Army’s 10th Mountain Division, the unit he served with in Iraq from 2006-1007.

But it was his commitment to fellow Christians halfway around the world that spurred him to go back.

"People say, ‘You’re crazy for doin’ this,’" Felton told 60 Minutes producer Jeff Newton, who met him in February, while working on a segment that aired Sunday. "I think people are crazy for not doing their part, to be honest with you."

"To me, for the Christians here, it would be an honor to give my life helping these people."

Felton, a 28-year-old from Troy, Michigan, returned to his cradle Catholic faith during his Army service in Iraq, according to the National Catholic Register’s Joan Frawley Desmond. Recently, while studying in Lebanon, he slipped into Iraq, where Christians have been fleeing the advance of the Islamic State group. The 60 Minutes crew caught up with him in Bakufa, an abandoned Christian village north of Mosul.

While he was in Iraq last time with the Tenth’s 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, he was there this time, he said, as a "soldier of Christ,"

Newton, who described the man as “tattooed out like a biker," with images of Christ on his body, found Felton to be a “hardcore Christian."

Newton and correspondent Lara Logan encountered “a few Christian men” who had formed militias to save their villages, north of Mosul. They lacked training, good weapons and funds

"When you’re with them, you have this terrible feeling that many of them would be massacred if the Islamic State really turned its attention to taking back those those villages," Logan said. Felton was training them in urban warfare: how to enter and clear a room, how to check for suicide vests, and how to drag your wounded to safety.

And this, with ISIS fighters only miles away from the village.

Tags:
Christians in the Middle EastIraqIslamist Militants
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