Friday, July 1, 2011

4th of July Weekend - Afghanistan

Please forgive the self-indulgence of this post, but since that one 4th of July weekend back in 2005 at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, Independence Day will always hold special meaning for me.

I was up there to work on an ASOC air to ground system that had been giving us lots of problems.

The frenetic search for Navy SEAL "Lone Survivor" Marcus Luttrell was on-going.  I was not involved in the effort, but I talked with those who were when I had to go into the Joint Operations Center to troubleshoot and test the operator console end of the communications system I was working on.  It added extra urgency to what we were doing.

I also stood on the flightline that evening, with everyone else, tears in our eyes and saluting, as they loaded the flag draped caskets containing the bodies of the SEALS who had died trying to rescue Petty Officer Luttrell.  The Taliban had a golden BB moment, shooting a rocket into the open door of the helicopter before the rescuers could unload.  It was the greatest single-day loss of Special Forces troops in the history of the United States.

Navy SEAL Petty Officer Danny Dietz
Two 4th of July's later, I stood with my wife and kids in Littleton, Colorado.  The city dedicated a park, along with a bronze statue, to fallen hero and Navy Seal Petty Officer Danny Dietz, one of Luttrell's SEAL team members who died in Operation Redwing.  His remains were recovered by Combat Search and Rescue on the 4th of July, 2005

I was just a support troop, but I was there.  Regardless of what the critics say, our efforts there were noble.  Like every war, the politicians screwed it up.  Our fighting forces were tactically brilliant but our government was strategically stupid.   Getting the hell out does no disrespect to those who have fought and died there.  They were selfless heroes who fought to give Afghans a shot at a better life.  We did our part and it's not our fault if the people failed to grasp the opportunity we presented them.

Mark Steyn sums up my feelings.  We should leave...
...the mullahs, warlords, poppy barons, and pederasts to have at each other without the distraction of extravagant NATO reconstruction projects littering their beautiful land of charmingly unspoilt rubble.
After the C-17 took off with the caskets, I wandered by the pax terminal and took this picture of the back wall.  I don't know who painted it, but it sums things up beautifully


Caption:
This is a tribute to all who have fallen during Operation Enduring Freedom
Live a life worthy of their sacrifice.

Amen

23 comments:

Jack Camwell said...

Excellent post, Silver. Although I was stuck on a boat in the Persian Gulf, being over there changes one's perspective on the world, even if you're lucky enough to never have to see any combat.

Thanks to your post, now, more than ever, do I feel that leaving Afghanistan would not denigrate the sacrifices made for the betterment of their society.

Perhaps there's more to victory than "winning."

Always On Watch said...

Getting the hell out does no disrespect to those who have fought and died there.

Ten years of trying to "win hearts and minds" is more than enough. I see no need to put our military in harm's way any longer.

Bunkerville said...

Your moving post said it all. Enough already.

amanofwonder said...

Thanks to you and all that have ever served our country.

Thank G-d you made it back safe and sound.

Mark Adams said...

This does it all for me "Getting the hell out does no disrespect to those who have fought and died there"
Never has and never will with me.
It's the politicians who make me angry when they just won't let our military do THEIR G/D job.
Thanks, Silver for your dedication, here and to the nation as a whole!

Rational Nation USA said...

All I can say Silver is... Well Said. And thank you for your service.

The Constitutional Insurgent said...

Great post.....well said.

Ducky's here said...

A 19 year old from a small high school just north died in Afghanistan and his body came back. Th fourth from this small school and it's terribly sad.

Nineteen, from a military family and far too young to consider the wisdom of taking up the white man's burden.

But the indoctrination is deep and it is so tragic. Dulce et decorum est?

Silverfiddle said...

So long as we don't go the way of Europe, where there is nothing worth fighting for.

Aristotle's golden mean would apply here. If we beat our swords into plowshares we'll soon be plowing for a new overlord.

Jersey McJones said...

This is a very thoughtful post, Silver. Thoughtful and smart. Mark Steyn's quote really sums it up.

After reading this, I recalled the Taliban, back before 9/11, destroying wonderous Buddhist statues. Remember that? http://www.commondreams.org/headlines01/0301-04.htm

What a horrible shame. What a horrible country.

I wish Bush had put everything into Afghanistan and found a better way to handle Saddam than a miserable, bloody, trillion dollar war.

But then this is Afghanistan, right? A horrible, horrible place. An indefatiguedly horrible place. You guys are worth far, far, far, faaaaaaaaaar more than that.

It's time we heeded the Constitution and withdraw to a naval presense internationally. We can do everything we need, with all forces, if we just stuck with that.

JMJ

Anonymous said...

I'm frankly awestruck that military men such as yourself, SilverFiddle, can manage to summon up the discipline, integrity and perseverance to continue to maintain your high standards long after it has become apparent to all but the dullest that you are putting your lives at risk every day for a mistake -- a tactical blunder -- an ill-conceived fight tragically mismanaged by the spectacularly inept leadership of U.S. Presidents who let themselves be guided by advisors that must be either demonic or moronic.

Well, even though the effort has proved futile, my hat goes off to you for doing your duty so well in spite of all the disincentives I'm sure you must have aware of.

Have a GREAT Fourth of July. You certainly deserve it.

~ FreeThinke

Jersey McJones said...

Thank you for reminding me, Free Thinke!

Happy Fourth!!!!

And FT, it is not tactics that have failed - it's the general strategy. We fiddled around in Afghanistan for years, and then we "surged" as if the same strategy we employed in Iraq would work in Afghanistan. Obama's mistake.

It was too late to salvage Afghanistan, if it was salvagable in the first place. Thank Bush and a lot of Republicans for that.

JMJ

Anonymous said...

I guess i never understood there was a difference between tactics and strategy, Jersey. I think I do now tanks to you.

Hey! Have a bang up good Fourth. Hope your weather stays fair for the fireworks wherever you are. It usually damp and cloudy around here. July marks the start of the rainy season. That was one of the few things the Founders couldn't foresee.

Cheers!

~ FreeThinke

Z said...

SF...it's hard to look at a picture of one of our fallen. Imagine all he gave up for us.
And imagine all the people who still don't get that, or can't imagine sacrifice like that.
Sometimes I think we shouldn't leave because all those lives lost will be for nothing; but we can't afford to lose more lives......especially not the types of Americans who're falling. I hate to put it that way, but that's what I mean.
thanks, SF...important post.
and thanks for your service.

Thersites said...

Nineteen, from a military family and far too young to consider the wisdom of taking up the white man's burden.

They can't all be Triarii or Principes, Mr. Ducky. And nineteen is a good age to learn.

Thersites said...

btw - Thank you for your service, Silverfiddle! Have an excellent 4th of July. Kawanio che Keeteru!

Thersites said...

FYI

Ray said...

Good post and thanks for your service as always Kurt. Have a good Fourth and as Thomas Paine said to all:

"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."

Indeed. Can't do it with them we can fight their battles and watch their backs here at home & on the net as there's no shortage of enemies of the nation slithering around cyberland USA. :(

conservativesonfire said...

You are a good mna, Silvefiddle. I'm proud to know you even if is only through the wwww.
Stay well, my friend.

Silverfiddle said...

Thanks everybody. I think about this every 4th of July.

Here's a quote from Marcus Luttrell about war:

If you don't want to get into a war where things go wrong, where the wrong people sometimes get killed, where innocent people sometimes have to die, then stay the hell out of it in the first place.
-- Marcus Luttrell, Navy Seal, from Lone Survivor, p. 313

Matt said...

That was an insightful and moving post. Have a happy 4th, and thanks for your service.

Most Rev. Gregori said...

To all who served, Thank you, and a a Happy Fourth of July to all.

With the release of a video I received yesterday, I can only hope and pray that this will NOT be our LAST July 4th celebration as a free and independent nation. I posted the video on my blog.

Maggie@MaggiesNotebook said...

Getting the hell out does no disrespect to those who have fought and died there.

As I read the past few days about the Declaration of Independence and what followed, I was struck by the tenants expressed by numerous Founders that America would always champion freedom and liberty for our neighbors.

We've learned that we can't do that the way we have been doing it. We haven't accepted the real enemy and set out to defeat it. We must be more determined, and as you mention, be wary of politicians who are always valiantly supportive in the beginning and then turn tail and run all too soon.

We must get in the fight, win in a such a way the enemy won't want us coming his way again, leaving behind a people with greater control of their destiny.

Thanks for telling us of your participation in this sad time for our military.