Cheap Seats 2017
Irreconcilable Differences - 10/25
By Rich Trzupek
When I listened to General John Kelly’s impassioned plea to move beyond politics involving the men and women who serve us in uniform, I was naïve enough to think “surely, this is a healing moment”. By carefully explaining all of the care and feeling and pain that goes into notifying a close relative of their loved one’s death while in serving, Kelly moved – or tried to move – beyond petty politics. By bearing witness to President Trump’s angst and search for advice about the right thing to say and how to say it before he made phone calls to those who had their lives shattered by what happened in Niger, Kelly tried to explain how much President Trump wanted to do the right thing, the right way.
By putting Trump’s comment that Army Sgt. La David Johnson’s “knew what he was getting into” in proper context, Kelly tried to let America know that the President shares his, and most Americans, awe and gratitude for those who serve in uniform. For Kelly, for those like him in service, saying “he knew what he was getting into” is a way of paying respect to brave men and women who are fully aware that service may ultimately involve the ultimate sacrifice. Kelly was appalled that a United States Congresswoman should attempt to pick-out a single phrase, entirely out of context, in an effort to twist a message of gratitude and respect into something callous and cold.
Kelly’s sincere and emotional remarks might have touched a liberal heart even a few decades ago. Today however, the left and its MSM branch will let no opportunity go by to demonize anyone and everyone with a different point of view. Of all the unwarranted, ridiculous, shameful attacks on this Marine who has served his country so selflessly and well, the charge of racism is most reprehensible. Kelly is not racist, he is a Marine. Anyone who knows anything about the Marines understands the difference. Rather than make my own poor attempt to explain that, I would rather let General Kelly explain it for himself, with excerpts from a speech he gave just four days after losing his son Robert to combat in Afghanistan in 2010. Here is some of what this great American had to say:
“Two years ago when I was the Commander of all U.S. and Iraqi forces, in fact, the 22nd of April 2008, two Marine infantry battalions, 1/9 “The Walking Dead,” and 2/8 were switching out in Ramadi. One battalion in the closing days of their deployment going home very soon, the other just starting its seven-month combat tour.
Two Marines, Corporal Jonathan Yale and Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter, 22 and 20 years old respectively, one from each battalion, were assuming the watch together at the entrance gate of an outpost that contained a makeshift barracks housing 50 Marines.
The same broken down ramshackle building was also home to 100 Iraqi police, also my men and our allies in the fight against the terrorists in Ramadi, a city until recently the most dangerous city on earth and owned by Al Qaeda. Yale was a dirt poor mixed-race kid from Virginia with a wife and daughter, and a mother and sister who lived with him and he supported as well. He did this on a yearly salary of less than $23,000. Haerter, on the other hand, was a middle class white kid from Long Island.
They were from two completely different worlds. Had they not joined the Marines they would never have met each other, or understood that multiple America’s exist simultaneously depending on one’s race, education level, economic status, and where you might have been born. But they were Marines, combat Marines, forged in the same crucible of Marine training, and because of this bond they were brothers as close, or closer, than if they were born of the same woman.
A few minutes later a large blue truck turned down the alley way—perhaps 60 to 70 yards in length—and sped its way through the serpentine of concrete jersey walls. The truck stopped just short of where the two were posted and detonated, killing them both catastrophically. Twenty-four brick masonry houses were damaged or destroyed. A mosque 100 yards away collapsed. The truck’s engine came to rest two hundred yards away knocking most of a house down before it stopped.
I traveled to Ramadi the next day and spoke individually to a half-dozen Iraqi police all of whom told the same story. The blue truck turned down into the alley and immediately sped up as it made its way through the serpentine. They all said, “We knew immediately what was going on as soon as the two Marines began firing.” The Iraqi police then related that some of them also fired, and then to a man, ran for safety just prior to the explosion.
All survived. Many were injured ... some seriously. One of the Iraqis elaborated and with tears welling up said, “They’d run like any normal man would to save his life.”
What he didn’t know until then, he said, and what he learned that very instant, was that Marines are not normal. Choking past the emotion he said, “Sir, in the name of God no sane man would have stood there and done what they did.”
“They saved us all.”
One of our security cameras, damaged initially in the blast, recorded some of the suicide attack. It happened exactly as the Iraqis had described it. It took exactly six seconds from when the truck entered the alley until it detonated.
You can watch the last six seconds of their young lives. Putting myself in their heads I supposed it took about a second for the two Marines to separately come to the same conclusion about what was going on once the truck came into their view at the far end of the alley. Exactly no time to talk it over, or call the sergeant to ask what they should do. Only enough time to take half an instant and think about what the sergeant told them to do only a few minutes before: “ ... let no unauthorized personnel or vehicles pass.”
The recording shows the truck careening to a stop immediately in front of the two Marines. In all of the instantaneous violence Yale and Haerter never hesitated. By all reports and by the recording, they never stepped back. They never even started to step aside. They never even shifted their weight. With their feet spread shoulder width apart, they leaned into the danger, firing as fast as they could work their weapons. They had only one second left to live.
The truck explodes. The camera goes blank. Two young men go to their God.
Not enough time to think about their families, their country, their flag, or about their lives or their deaths, but more than enough time for two very brave young men to do their duty ... into eternity. That is the kind of people who are on watch all over the world tonight—for you.