Father says God directed American to fight Islamic State group
HUDSON, Mass. (AP) -- The father of the first American believed to have been killed fighting the Islamic State group said his son's path "wasn't very straight," but God straightened it and guided him to Syria.
Keith Broomfield, a Massachusetts man who had no military training, died fighting alongside Kurdish forces. Friends and family gathered Wednesday at Grace Baptist Church in Hudson for his funeral before a private burial.
Friends described Broomfield, 36, as a car and motorcycle enthusiast who embraced his passions headlong. He drove a DeLorean car in high school and later fixed up a 1970s motorcycle to ride on a cross-country adventure to California. He loved his family and his dog, Columbo.
But his parents said he also had gotten into trouble with the law.
"There was a lot of things that Keith tried that we won't even mention, but it breaks your heart to see your children do that," Tom Broomfield said.
Childhood friend Ben Roberts said Broomfield had "lost years pursuing things that left him empty and alone, and that left those who loved him wounded."
After a motorcycle accident left Broomfield with chronic pain, he rediscovered his faith and the pain went away, his father said. Later, he told his father he was called to fight in Syria.
"Keith got his heart straight and it was after that he said, `Dad I'm gonna go do this. I've seen what's going on and it doesn't make a lot of sense, but I have to go do this,'" his father said.
Funeral organizers expected more than 500 people to attend the service for Broomfield, who was raised in Bolton and lived more recently in Westminster.
A group of American Kurds also came to show their support.
"He passed away in our land for us," said Abdul Tammo, of Hartford, Connecticut. "He supported us, so we're here to support him."
(© 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed)