On June 28, 2005, the members of US Navy SEAL team 10 were sent on a reconnaissance mission in the mountains of Afghanistan in the Hindu Kush. Mike Murphy, Danny Deitz, Matt Axelson and Marcus Luttrell were following a known Taliban terrorist to gain intel; they were hidden just off a mountain path when, out of nowhere, three goatherders came up the path and nearly stepped on one of the men. Out of necessity, the SEALs detained the goatherders and discussed their options.
The options were slim. They knew by the way the Afghanis were looking at them and interacting with them that the instant they let them go, they’d tell the Taliban where to find them and they’d be dead. But the other half of the conversation was even more disgusting: these highly-trained SEALs were more afraid of the press than they were of the Taliban. They knew that if they didn’t kill the goatherders right then, right there on that mountain, Taliban fighters would swarm the area and snuff them out. If they did kill the three Afghanis, however, they would be castigated by the liberal media back home–and, in the words of Lt. Mike Murphy, “we’ll be tried for murder shortly thereafter.” A situation that would have been a no-brainer during WWII became a political quagmire on the side of a mountain in Afghanistan.
Lt. Murphy had a choice. He could kill the goatherders (effectively ending any threat of the Taliban knowing they were there), save his men, and complete his mission, providing valuable intel on a major Taliban leader. Or, he could give more importance to the political aspect, let the goatherders go alive, and face almost certain death to protect their reputations from the ravages of the press.
They were more afraid of the press in the country they were fighting to protect than they were of the enemy that threatened to kill them.
Anybody who paid attention to the news at the time knows what the outcome was. They released the goatherders, and within minutes they were set upon by hundreds of Taliban soldiers. They fought like hell, like the SEALs they were, and in the middle of the fight Lt. Murphy took the radio from a badly wounded Danny Dietz with no regard for his own safety and moved to an open location to radio for help. This single act resulted in Murphy being mortally wounded. Lt. Murphy, Danny Dietz and Matt Axelson died on the mountain that day, and 16 more–including four of their fellow SEALs and eight Army Night Stalkers sent to rescue them–were killed when their Chinook helicopter was shot down by the Taliban.
Marcus Luttrell was the single survivor of the battle. With cracked vertebrae, gunshot wounds and shrapnel in both legs Luttrell managed to drag himself seven miles before a group of Afghani villagers took him in and cared for him until the village elder could get a message to US forces. He was rescued on July 3, days after the battle, having been fiercely protected by the Afghani villagers who took pity on him.
It is a travesty that the bravest of all of us should have more fear for their own countrymen than they should of the murderous enemy. Each one of them knew what they were doing. They knew what they were fighting for, and they willingly paid the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedoms. Lt. Michael P. Murphy was awarded the Medal of Honor in 2007 for his courageous act to protect his men, made necessary by the political correctness that pervades our culture. Given any circumstances, though, he’d have done no different. Nor would any of the men who gave their lives that day, including the four SEAL teammates who were the first to board the chopper to help them.
Any American who does not understand the significance of Memorial Day should be ashamed of themselves. I have met more than a couple. Today is a day to remember the sacrifices of the men and women who have fought, bled and died for our freedom. We should never forget. And any person who feels it necessary to demean those who still fight to the point that they would put these heroes in danger should feel suicidally guilty. There should never be any reason for our heroes to fear any of us more than they fear our enemies. I wonder how the reporters who break these half-baked “stories” sleep at night.
“Greater love has no one than this: that he would lay down his life for his friends.” –John 15:13