In my years on the Patrol, I looked forward to the July 4th holiday with mixed feelings. The revelry and warmth of this summer holiday were tempered by the absolute certainty that either I personally, or one or more of my officers would confront tragedy in some form or another. As we enter this holiday, I appreciate America more than ever, but am concerned with the tone and tenor of our resolve to defend ourselves against our enemies, as they say “foreign and domestic”. The recently concluded trial of Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher is an example of the shifting resolve we face. Below, we have Chief Gallagher.
Combat is not akin to a mean natured dog on your paper route. Those of us who have served in combat know that war is a nasty business that will sear your conscious and awaken you in the middle of the night. There are no easy solutions when your boots are on the ground and a rifle is your best friend. I do not wish the experience on anyone, but also know that it is inevitable if we are to continue to enjoy the life that our fighting men and women have guaranteed by confronting our enemies and killing them when necessary. The line between absolute immorality and morality is drawn somewhere between Me Lai and the actions of Chief Gallagher, with one being clearly out of bounds and the other…well you judge for yourself.
I am a relatively inexperienced warrior, having spent a year in Vietnam near the end of a war we fought for reasons not clearly understood and that has not been judged kindly by history. I did, however; live with a very experienced warrior in my father, a highly decorated Green Beret Colonel, who saw combat in both Korea and Vietnam. I suspect that dad would be appalled by the trial of Chief Gallagher, even though his actions as portrayed by the prosecutors were “distasteful”. My father and I did not talk much about his participation in combat, but I understood his clear eyed, intrinsic belief that you met a challenge “on terms they (challenger) would understand”. My friends viewed dad with a deep respect as his presence could chill a room instantly. One of my uncles, an Air Force veteran, often referred to dad as “the most dangerous man he had ever known”. There is absolutely no doubt that killing, in combat, was not difficult for my father and folks like Eddie Gallagher. That, readers, is the essence of combat. The Chief stands convicted of posing with the corpse of an enemy combatant, an occurrence that represents the black humor that is often present on the battlefield. This stuff is not for timid, inexperienced warriors. Again, I leave the judgement of his actions to the reader, based on his or her own sensitivities and experience with death. The picture below is of Col. SR Johnson.
Shifting gears just a bit, our televisions have been alive with footage of ANTIFA punks beating the hell out of a journalist attempting to capture the essence of their despicable antics. As a professional police officer for many years, the sight of these masked thugs beating up folks without police interference makes me retch. I would smile broadly if one of the victims in these assaults could somehow secure a baton and beat one of the ANTIFA thugs senseless. We are not going to influence the actions of these idiots by standing by and shaking our heads while we mutter under our breaths. Dad’s wisdom comes into play, meet them on the terms they have established. Chief Gallagher was confronted by an enemy that teaches public beheading of innocent people as a means to shock the world into accepting their way of life. Were his actions any more shocking than the words of one of our greatest warriors, General George Patton, who proclaimed he “would grease the treads of his tanks with the guts of the (German soldiers)” that his troops killed? Was that unbecoming conduct? Hardly.
The point of this all is simple. America must continue to produce warriors that are willing and able to meet our enemies, domestic and foreign, on terms they will understand. There is little if any diplomacy in combat, whether it be in a foreign country or our streets. The diplomacy that does exist must be exercised before the gloves come off and we engage the combatants. Chief Gallagher will write a book, as he should, in hopes of guaranteeing his financial future. His trial was America’s trial and the verdict is in. Combat is a double barreled hell that results in blurred lines between reasonable and unreasonable lines in the sand. The advantage must be given to the warrior.
America is on trial…..are we up to it?