Skip to main content

Wisconsin veteran who previously fought against Islamic State is missing

  • Author:
  • Updated:

Six months ago, Bruce Windorski returned to Wisconsin after a stint in Syria, fighting against the Islamic State with locally operated defense groups.

A week ago he disappeared – and his family and authorities are trying to locate him.

The Journal Sentinel reports the 40-year-old's wife, Courtney Windorski from Gillett, Wisconsin, says he's been missing since Sunday, Oct. 18. At the time, the former U.S. Army veteran said he was heading on an overnight trip with others who suffer from PTSD.

But he never returned home, and Courtney Windorski has since found out there was no gathering.

On Monday, Oct. 19, authorities traced his cellphone to a tower in Missouri, WBAY reports. He hasn't been seen or heard from since.

This embed is invalid

The Wisconsin Department of Justice says he is coping with PTSD, according to a page dedicated to Windorski on

His truck is a gray 2003 Dodge Durango, with a Menominee Nation plate and number A9658. Anyone with information is asked to call Gillett Police at 920-855-2125, or 911, FOX 11 reports.

Americans fighting against the Islamic State

Windorski was actually the subject of a Wall Street Journal article in September – a story about the "unusual fringe of American veterans" who head overseas to fight the Islamic State on their own volition, working with groups such as the People’s Defense Units (often called the YPG).

At the start of this year he left for Iraq, not telling his wife or family about it beforehand.

It was spurred by his desire to visit the site of his brother's death; his helicopter was shot down in Kirkuk, Iraq, in 2009. Windorski instead was ushered to Syria, where he fought alongside another American and local Kurdish fighters.

The Journal chronicles some of the operations Windorski participated in, and the close call he and another American had before returning to the U.S. in April.

The FBI estimates about 100 American vets have gone to fight against the Islamic State on their own volition, the Wall Street Journal reports. An August report from investigative website bellingcat estimates the number at about 108.

They're fighting alongside Kurdish militias and Christian militant groups in the region, Foreign Policy writes.

The New York Times ran a story earlier this month, describing the "American Vigilantes" that are fighting the Islamic State.

One snippet:

"They crossed borders to join a de facto state run by a socialist militia with small arms, entering a battlefield where soldiers died of preventable wounds and untrained medics made tourniquets from broomsticks and torn blankets. ... Many realized, far too late, that this wasn’t a normal deployment. Ad hoc organization, no advanced weaponry, no Black Hawk to airlift them to safety, few translators. They had abandoned everything — jobs, children, wives."

The United States military says it's conducting targeted airstrikes in Syria and Iraq as part of the plan to combat the Islamic State. There are also some special operations being run – last week, U.S. officials announced the death of Master Sgt Joshua L Wheeler. The 39-year-old is the first American soldier to die fighting the Islamic State, the Guardian reports.

The U.S. Department of State warns Americans against traveling to Syria, and suggests any in the country leave immediately.

Next Up


80 mph winds, large hail possible with severe storms in MN

A severe thunderstorm watch is in effect for much of the state until 3 a.m. Saturday.


30 people evacuated as flooding hammers small town

It's assumed that at least eight inches of rain fell in Randall, with more heavy rain expected Friday night into Saturday morning.

Intersection in Rochester.

Boy dies in motorcycle crash in Rochester

Police are investigating as of Friday afternoon.

Tab2FileL (13)

Numerous severe storms likely in Minnesota Friday night

Watch the video for the full details with meteorologist Sven Sundgaard.

court room

Teen pleads guilty in shooting death of 15-year-old girl in Columbia Heights

Damico Jamal-Tokyo High will receive a sentence in juvenile court, along with an adult prison sentence.

Screen Shot 2022-04-25 at 11.00.01 AM

Walz wants to use surplus money to send direct payments to Minnesotans

It's a renewed effort from a previous proposal from Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan's supplemental budget in January.

Ron Johnson

Jan. 6 committee says aide for WI senator tried to give fake elector info to Pence

The attempt was discovered through text messages in the ongoing public hearing held by the Jan. 6 select committee.

Stock U of M sign

Minnesota state colleges boosting tuition again by 3.5%

The Minnesota State system's Board of Trustee's approved the increase Wednesday.


Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Friday, June 24

The next daily update will be provided Monday, June 27.

Pro choice rally

Walz, Jensen react to historic Supreme Court reversal of Roe v. Wade

After voting to overturn Roe, conservative Justice Clarence Thomas has hinted contraception and same-sex marriage protections should follow.

16362 County Rd 81, Maple Grove, Minnesota - October 2021 (4)

2-year-old killed in crash on County Road 81 in Maple Grove

The crash occurred Thursday evening on County Road 81.

police tape

BCA issues new details about St. Michael standoff, shooting

New details say a St. Cloud police officer struck the suspect with gunfire.