Today marks the six year anniversary of the downing of Extortion 17, a Chinook helicopter shot down over Afghanistan containing 38 people and a military dog. Among the 38 who perished in this tragedy were 15 men from Gold Squadron of the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, popularly called SEAL Team 6, the team responsible for taking out Osama Bin Laden. This was the largest single loss of life in the War on Terror and the largest loss of Navy SEALs in the unit’s history. On this day of tragedy, and memorial, I am going to stay away from the aspects of the incident which are under dispute, and instead focus on what we need to learn from this horrible tragedy.
My involvement with the March for Justice, a nationwide march being held to support open and honest investigations into what happened to Extortion 17 and the 4 US Patriots who were murdered by terrorists in Benghazi, Libya, has given me the distinct privilege of meeting some of the most amazing people in this country. I have spent time with Charles Strange, father of Michael Strange who was killed on Extortion 17, and a dedicated activist for military transparency and to support Gold Star families. Larry Klayman, founder of Judicial Watch and the lawyer who sued the government to get the investigation into what happened to Extortion 17 reopened. Ximena Baretto, a founder of the March for Justice and endless fighter in support of our military, and many others who fight for the military and their families as well. None have had the effect on me as when I had an interview with Joni Marquez last week. I am not sure if I will be the same after hearing her story, but the one thing I am positive of is that I will forever be a better person for hearing her story and knowing that my belief in America and in our Military is stronger than ever. Let me explain.
Joni is a retired Air Force Captain and was flying on the AC30 in support of Extortion 17 that night in Afghanistan. After engaging a group of enemy soldiers, and subsequently watching two of them survive and leave, her AC30 asked for permission to finish the job and take out the remaining enemies. She was denied this permission. She had to watch helplessly as the soldiers went and regrouped. Yet no permission to take these animals out was given.
The reason? The Obama Administration changed the Rules of Engagement that our troops were to use in battle. President Obama did this, as he stated openly, to help win the “hearts and minds” of the Afghan people and not engage in any military activity that could make us look bad to the population. As I sit here even writing this, I can’t comprehend the stupidity of such a policy, but I digress. This policy directly forbade any engagement of these animals until the fired first. The did fire first. With a rocket propelled grenade. That RPG hit Extortion 17 and killed our soldiers. Joni was in tears telling us this story. I was also fighting back my own.
Since then my sadness has turned into anger and resolve. War is not pretty, and victory does not come from focusing on the feelings of the enemies. The results of fighting a politically correct war are evident in the flags handed to the families of those killed at Dover Air Force Base. The results are evident in a Congressional Investigation producing a report on the incident which is full of lies and blaming th tragedy on a “lucky shot”.
This is why we support our troops. Any country who feels that the safety of our troops is going to be compromised for some BS political goal, cannot win wars against their enemies. Such a military will find it harder and harder to find troops to enlist and put themselves in harm’s way when they know the political leadership of the country is playing games with their lives. When the opinions of those who hate America are given more weight than those that love America, we have to build more tombstones for Arlington cemetery.
An this anniversary, if you have a few minutes, look into what happened to our people in Extortion 17 and Beghazi. Watch my interview with Joni and hear what really happened that night. Reach out the the Michael Strange Foundation and offer some support to help other Gold Star families. If your outrage is sufficient enough after you do, join us September 10th, 2017 and demand justice.