How many people have heard of Matthew McConaughey, Big Sean, Todd Gurley or Ray Lewis? Chances are one or two of these big names are familiar. Now how many have heard of Clint Lawrence or Derrick Miller? It’s a safe bet that most Americans have never heard of either man or others like them.
Now how many of you have heard of Bowe Bergdahl? Andrew Tahmooressi? Once in a while, media folks such as Sean Hannity and Allen West among others have told some of these men’s’ stories. I’ve written about a few of them in the past.
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One of the years’ most visible news stories involved imprisoned Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi after mistakenly entering Mexico. Anyone who is active in social media and conservative sites knows many people kept pressure on our State Department and politicians to gain Sgt. Tahmooressi’s release until finally after 214 days, he was immediately released. I can hope that constant pressure by regular people and media names like Greta Van Susteren and Montel Williams helped bring our Marine home.
Can we please do the same for others who have been in an American prison since being arrested during war?
First let’s really consider a few things. Career Military officials and politicians for the most part write and implement Rules of Engagement (ROEs) for our troops during deployment. Many of those who write the rules have never been in combat, and a majority of politicians have never served in the military at all. In other words, those who make the rules have never had to fight in a war with enemies who don’t care about or play by the rules.
Please think about bodies falling from the World Trade Center, September 11, 2001. Think about Four Americans civilians shot in an ambush, and then burned, hacked and dragged through the streets of Fallujah, Iraq. Think about the locals who cheered as one corpse was dragged up and down the main road in full view of a camera crew and the remains of two charred and mangled corpses were hung from a bridge across the Euphrates River.
American media and politicians are quick to point out atrocities done at the hands of our military during war. Atrocities done by the enemy are almost passed off as radical and localized, dismissing the more detailed acts of beheading children and selling women into sexual slavery. Our troops are sent to enemy nations, and yet are expected to respect the enemy.
Think about Camp Chapman in Afghanistan in 2009 where seven American CIA officers and contractors, and an Afghan working for the CIA were killed and six Americans were wounded when a Jordanian Intelligence officer detonated a bomb sewn into a vest he was wearing.
Think about Extortion 17, the Chinook Helicopter which was shot down by the Taliban, which killed everyone on board including members of SEAL Team 6, other Special Forces operators a SF K-9 and a couple of Afghani Forces members.
At Camp Bastion, an attack in which two Marines were killed and 17 coalition members were wounded by 15 insurgents when they penetrated external perimeters and launched an attack with grenades and machine guns. There was the latest attack in August of this year when an insurgent dressed in an Afghan army uniform, fired into a group of international soldiers at Camp Qargha killing US Major Gen. Harold Greene.
It’s been said that War is hell. It’s also been said that “The soldier above all others prays for peace, for it is the soldier who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.”
I can’t help but wonder what General McArthur would say now if he was here to see how politicians have treated our troops on and off the battlefield. With the ROEs in place where war now would be better suited being fought by lawyers instead of trained warriors due to the legalese they have to deal with.
Our military fights an enemy who doesn’t care about such things as a Geneva Convention or Rules, who has no concern for civilian deaths, and who would sell their own children for weapons. They face attacks on their bases, Green on Blue attacks, suicide bombings, involved in intense battles, platoons and friends being massacred all the while having thoughts of court martials and facing possible prison sentences if they dare shoot an enemy when the battle’s over.
Fort Leavenworth in Kansas is home to the United States Disciplinary Barracks. It is the U.S. military’s only maximum-security facility and houses male service members convicted at court-martial for violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Earlier this year I wrote about 1st Lieutenant Clint Lorance, who was in charge of an Army platoon stationed near a Taliban friendly village in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan. Intelligence reports showed that terrorists had been using motorcycles to implant IEDs and also used by suicide bombers to drive into groups of innocent civilians or military patrols and detonate themselves. The former platoon leader had been killed, as were others of the unit because of insurgent attacks.
Clint and his unit came under enemy fire their first day out. The second day, while patrolling a road known to be used by the enemy, three men on a motorcycle sped towards their position. Lorence had to make a split decision to either let them go hoping they weren’t terrorists ready to kill his men, or engage in a fight. He chose to give permission for his men to fire at them. Two were killed. Clint is now serving a 20-year sentence at Ft Leavenworth for violating Obama’s rules of engagement.
In September 2010, Sgt. Derrick Miller was part of a combat mission in a hostile area of Afghanistan. An Afghan national who had penetrated the defense perimeter was brought to Sgt. Miller’s attention by one of the soldiers under his command who had recognized the man from a checkpoint the day before. He identified him as the driver of a truck that had been searched, and was transporting armed insurgents to a nearby combat firefight. Derrick’s men had been instructed by superiors in command to let the vehicle pass at the time.
The Afghani was behaving suspiciously and seemed to be gathering information, prompting Sgt. Miller to question him. The questioning took place in an open area with another soldier and an Afghan interpreter present. During questioning, the suspect’s story changed twice. He originally claimed to be there to fix a power line then claimed he was there to fix a water pump yet he had no tools.
Originally he was seen with two men, whom he claimed to be his sons and helpers. However, both men had left the perimeter without performing any work, and went in separate directions to their village. During questioning the insurgent attempted to grab Sgt. Miller’s weapon and was shot and killed by Sgt. Miller.
Within the same hour, Sgt. Miller’s unit was attacked by more insurgents. It was testified at Sgt. Miller’s trial that to be attacked the way they had been, someone must have scouted out the base and their positions and there was no doubt that the Afghan insurgent had been the one who had done it. Sgt. Miller’s actions had forced the base to be on high alert prior to the attack.
All events had been confirmed and testified to by the Afghan interpreter who had been present during the questioning, the shooting and the attack about 45 minutes later. It was believed by interpreter and the soldiers present at the time that the other two men were carrying information to the insurgents detailing the most effective targets for the attack.
Sgt. Miller may have saved the lives of other American forces that day, by shooting an insurgent in self-defense. He is now in Ft. Leavenworth with a life sentence.
As Obama has released more than just the 5 top terrorists traded for Bowe Bergdahl, our troops still face the real fear that they will be thrown in prison should they defend themselves against terrorists during hostilities. While none of the terrorists have called an end to war, the last of our troops are returning from Afghanistan, just like Obama had claimed when he withdrew our military from Iraq in the end of 2011 that the war has ended. Now we have more of our troops going back to “advise” Iraqis and train fighters to go against ISIS.
It’s no news that many terrorists have been armed by the Obama administration, and with our troops back in Iraq and other Islamic hot spots, they face more dangerous circumstances with more restrictions. How many will die because they had to make decisions between being killed or facing prison time for fighting back? How many more will end up going to prison? Are there any real leaders in Washington with a sense of commitment to our troops? Are there any political personalities who can keep these stories alive until these men are released?
Many of us were aware of Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi’s plight, and kept pressure on those “in charge” to secure his release from a Mexican prison. I am only one of thousands who followed Andrew’s story, prayed, tweeted, pleaded and sent him letters hoping to keep his hope alive. What about those American soldiers who are held in Leavenworth because they dared fight back? Who will be their advocates?