"Enrico" in Thailand
- "My good fool," said a learned bystander,
- "Your operations are mad."
- "You are too candid," cried the candid man,
- And when his stick left the head of the learned bystander
- It was two sticks
- --War is Kind and Other Lines,
- Stephen Crane
- I got so much to give
- I want to give it
- I want to get some, too
- --I Love the Nightlife,
- Alicia Bridges
Pt. II -- Goodwill Hunting:
So is it any wonder the ostensible goodwill mission turned into a slugfest? The surprise is that the Command did not worst case plan this escapade, and the troops paid the price.
Do we care that the citation was embellished, or that five brave and good Americans died that day for a Goodwill Mission? Is Goodwill Hunting a new mission for a Rifle Platoon or Company? Following are a few rhetorical observations:
McClatchey reports in Dancing Goat II: "The Americans and an Afghan soldier were later found in a trench to which they had retreated." Retreated is not the correct term for what First Lt. Michael E. Johnson, Gunnery Sergeant Edwin W. Johnson, Petty Officer 3rd Class James R. Layton (medic) and Staff Sergeant Aaron M. Kenefick did that day. Retreating indicates an attempt to evacuate the battle area after having cashed it in.
Instead, these men were employing the cover that was available. They were in contact with a superior force and they were falling back under enemy pressure. They did not turn their backs, and this describes their deaths more accurately than calling it a retreat. They died in military order.
Ditto the paper's description of the MOH "winners". The medal of Honor is not won, it is conferred; they are "recipients". The implication of the word winner emanates from a sport culture divided into winners and losers, but the battlefield is not such a game. It could be said that even when one "wins", one has lost on some profound level.
But these are small points. The real point is that we have a President and a USMC Commandant that do not ask the correct questions. Both focus on the actions at the objective to the detriment and exclusion of questions that should be and need to be discussed. Those questions concern command actions which should have been considered before the unit was task organized and launched.
Casting aspersions upon Meyer's actions obscures the fact that good men died needlessly because of poor planning, which leads inevitable to faulty execution. The negative superlatives must fall upon the chain of command to include a Commander in Chief who continues such a senseless war.
The USMC was determined to produce a live MOH recipient and institutionally set out to do so. Controversy resulted, and an MOH recipient who left the Corps as soon as he could put on his hat.
We will close with a comment by then-Lance Cpl. Meyer:
"When somebody calls me a hero, I almost feel sick to my stomach. I'm getting recognized for what I did, but this medal is not about me. It's about the men and women serving right now, and those who will be serving afterward. They're the true heroes" (Man of Honor).