People line highway to pay respects to John Gallagher

First responders and members of the public lined the overpasses along Highway 401 today to pay their final respects to John Gallagher, a volunteer fighter in Syria.

The procession started from a funeral home in Toronto and will make the 270-kilometre journey to Blenheim, the town where Gallagher was raised, where his body will be turned over to a funeral home.

Gallagher, a former member of the 2nd Battalion of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, left earlier this year for Syria to fight ISIS. He volunteered with a Kurdish militia, known as the People’s Protection Unit (YPG).

He was killed earlier this month while fighting. It is unclear whether he died from a suicide bomb or gunfire.

Gallagher’s body was flown home earlier this week.

Since he was a volunteer fighter, Gallagher was not entitled to a standard military repatriation. So, the Canadian Heroes Foundation stepped in to bring his body home and give Gallagher a dignified journey back home for the last time.

The Canadian Heroes Foundation, established in 2009, ensures the memory of the fallen and sacrifices are not forgotten.  This is the first time the foundation has organized a repatriation.

A large delegation from the Kurdish community is also accompanying the procession.

A public ceremony is planned in Toronto for Gallagher at a later date.

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