A sailor says of Bergdahl: “There’s never been a SEAL captured or left behind. No. Exceptions. Ever.”

Myrddin wrote earlier this morning about the news that the right-wing, including former officer John McCain and his vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, has been attacking Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for the crime of “not being left behind” by his commander-in-chief.

Bergdahl, as you may know, was being held captive by a Taliban-aligned network in Afghanistan, after he went missing in June, 2009. The circumstances surrounding his disappearance are still murky. The US government recently secured Bergdahl’s release in exchange for the release of five Taliban prisoners being held at Guantanamo Bay (Gitmo).

I offer this, sent by a person I’ll identify as a “former member of SEAL Team 2.” The writer served in Viet Nam. This is his experience.

This is also the experience of every person in the U.S. military, in one form or another. It’s what we do. Please read. The story that illustrates the lesson is amazing. It may also bring you a smile:

One of the things that was drummed into us, beginning with the recruiting process (when I joined the teams you had to be invited by UDT/SEALs to the training; you couldn’t just walk up and say, “Dude, I want to go to BUDs”) was that “There has never been a SEAL captured or left behind, living or dead.”

Wounded soldier with comrades (Image credit: NATO photos)

Wounded soldier with comrades (Image credit: NATO photos)

During our training, if a classmate or crewmate (we were divided into boat crews by height — since you spend a lot of time carrying those f*cking boats, that part makes sense) got hurt, if the injury was not life-threatening (and believe me, our instructors had a strange scale to measure what constituted life-threatening), then it was our duty to carry that person through the rest of the exercise while the instructors screamed into our ears — “There has NEVER been a SEAL captured or left behind, living or DEAD!”

Sometimes, if no one got conveniently injured, an instructor would touch someone on the shoulder and say, “Your leg’s broken.” And the same drill would ensue with the appropriate screaming at us. Times were not adjusted to account for the extra effort, because there are no such adjustments on the battlefield. If you blew your time, your time was blown.

In Quang Ngai during a recon I caught a bullet in the hip. It blew off a chunk of my iliac crest and cracked my pelvis. The guys on my team did the usual bandaid-type first aid, rigged a stretcher, and humped my ass the hell out of there nearly eight miles to try and reach a place where the choppers could reach us to evacuate.

I was hurting like hell. I was also feeling guilty for slowing my guys down, and feeling responsible since we were supposed to be avoiding contact and when the contact came, I had been “on point.” Eventually, when the pain and jostling had gotten to be more than I could stand — along with the guilt for being the cause of all this — I begged my guys to put me down and leave me with an M60 so I could at least slow down the folks chasing us.

To my great relief they put me down and stopped the bouncing. To my surprise they all busied themselves digging the f*ck into a perimeter around me. I told them, “No, leave me. You guys get outta here.” I was greeted with seven guys shouting in my ear — “There has NEVER been a SEAL captured or left behind, living or DEAD!”

My friend [name withheld] said, “If you die, everybody dies.” Faced with that choice I told them to pick me up and start the bouncing again. This time I sucked it the f*ck up and took it.

I have no opinion of the “worthiness” of Bowe Bergdahl before, or since, his capture. That sh!t is way above any pay grade I ever held.

If he was at any time on the field of battle like me, then it is my sworn duty to bring his ass home one way or another, even at the cost of my own life.

That’s the f*cking rule, *ssholes. No. Exceptions. Ever.

–Former Member SEAL Team 2

The writer adds:

Rear Adm. John F. Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, said that there was a larger matter at play: The American military does not leave soldiers behind. “When you’re in the Navy, and you go overboard, it doesn’t matter if you were pushed, fell or jumped,” he said. “We’re going to turn the ship around and pick you up.”

Who would not want to serve with women and men who think and act like that, whatever your other thoughts about war? Me, I’d be proud to call them sisters and brothers.

By the way, that link in the first sentence — you’ll like it. Master stylist Charles Pierce performs a perfect take-down of the aforementioned “right-wing”. The phrase “Rich (Sparkle Pants) Lowry” turns up.

GP

Twitter: @Gaius_Publius
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Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States. Click here for more. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius and Facebook.

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  • LucySinclairsyk

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  • LumberJock

    Believe me! I had better be.

  • flocculent

    This is going to be unpopular, but I call bullshit. Saying something repeatedly doesn’t make it true, and the idea that carrying a corpse from a battlefield isn’t “leaving them behind” is a fallacy. They were left behibd on that battlefield the instant they died. The other SEALS were carrying worm food, and risking their lives only to perpetuate recruitment for more the manufacture of worm food. This focus on squad loyalty is simply another way to trick desperate young men and women into donating their limbs and lives to corporations and their shareholders. Stories like this are designed to perpetuate the false concept of a volunteer military, and of “just wars,” where morality and justice are destroyed. The history of the SEALS shows that their military efforts are primarily pursued for financial gain.

    I don’t tell soldiers and sailors that I respect their service, because I respect their humanity enough not to lie to them. I have no respect for the decision to make a career of killing, especially given the history of American interventionism for corporate profits.

  • MyrddinWilt

    Its worse than that. They want to keep the wars going so they can send people to get killed.

    During the cold war we had agents in the field in East Germany trying to bring down the government and the wall. Meanwhile Thatcher is telling Gorbachev to send in the tanks to stop that happening (claiming to speak for all the NATO leaders). The transcript is in the Thatcher foundation archives.

    Two things to learn from that, first the intel services have their own agendas that is not necessarily the same as the politicians. Which is why I don’t trust the Generals running the NSA. Second the politicians will stab you in the back for some idiotic Machiavellian scheme thats really about boosting their ego.

  • KelsQualeymit

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  • Silver_Witch

    I hope you are right LumberJock.

  • LumberJock

    Should it be appropriate to Courts Martial Sgt.Bergdahl, He’ll likely get any conviction reversed, due to pre-trial publicity. None of the trial Court board can avoid watching or hearing the hue & cry of guilt first and punishment second – saves the ‘taxpayers’ the cost of a trial.

  • Silver_Witch

    Well that is Sarah Palin now….

    Want to see what she said before?

    Governor Offers Support to Family of Captive Soldier

    July 19, 2009, Anchorage, Alaska – Governor Sarah Palin offered her support and encouragement to the family of a Ft. Richardson soldier captured in Afghanistan.

    “Todd and I are praying for Private First Class Bowe Bergdahl, his family, and all of his fellow soldiers who are putting their lives on the line to defend our freedom and protect democracy abroad,” Governor Palin said. “The capture of Private Bergdahl and the bombings in Jakarta prove that we have not defeated terrorism, and that radical extremists will stop at nothing to attack Westerners and our ideals.”

    Hmmmm what is the difference between today and 2009….could it be who is in the White House, noooo SHE could not be that shallow – oh yes she is!

  • TallulaDuck

    Can Bowe Bergdahl Be Tied to 6 Lost Lives? Facts Are Murky

    The Daily Beast published an essay by a former member of Sergeant Bergdahl’s battalion, Nathan Bradley Bethea, who linked the search to the deaths of eight soldiers whom he named. But a review of casualty reports and contemporaneous military logs from the Afghanistan war shows that the facts surrounding the eight deaths are far murkier than definitive — even as critics of Sergeant Bergdahl contend that every American combat death in Paktika Province in the months after he disappeared, from July to September 2009, was his fault.

    Two soldiers died during the most intense period of the search after Sergeant Bergdahl’s June 30 disappearance. Both were inside an outpost that came under attack, not out patrolling and running checkpoints looking for him. The other six soldiers died in late August and early September.

    All across Afghanistan, that period was a time of ferocious fighting. President Obama had decided to send a surge of additional troops to improve security, but they had not yet arrived. In Paktika, the eight deaths during that period were up from five in the same three months the previous year. Across Afghanistan, 122 Americans died in that period, up from 58 in 2008.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/04/world/middleeast/can-gi-be-tied-to-6-lost-lives-facts-are-murky.html?_r=0

  • TallulaDuck

    John McCain and his vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, has been
    attacking Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for the crime of “not being left behind” by
    his commander-in-chief.

    In a perfect world every time Palin opened her mouth .. a hand would appear to slap John McCain upside his head.

    Prior to Bergdahl’s release, Republican lawmakers were some of the sergeant Bergdahl’s biggest advocates, and repeatedly pressed the administration to do something — in fact, everything within its power — to get him returned to the United States.

    A May 22 press release from Senator Ayotte’s office read, “As part of ongoing efforts to urge the Department of Defense to do all it can to find Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl and bring him home safely, Senator Ayotte worked successfully to include a provision in the bill that presses Pakistan to fully cooperate in the search for SGT Bergdahl.” Of course now Ayotte is singing a different tune. Dirty Reps like to burn their candle at both ends .

  • 4th Turning

    Don’t go away thinking I missed your point. Am a “veteran” raptor rehab
    volunteer, campaigner for no-kill, meager donation donor to several
    sanctuaries (My fav. still Primarily Primates-don’t know what happened
    there…) I believe life is life-all of it equal in every way. Love that image
    I carry in my head of an Indian woman brushing the floor with a feather
    before sitting down. Maybe more symbol than substance, but my kind
    of prayer. Indeed, I am treated better by the bacteria in my gut than
    by some of my own…

  • VarshaMoretoniss

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  • goulo

    True; they would not be screaming about this if it had been done during Bush’s presidency.

  • The_Fixer

    Yes. And one more thing: To secure resources for their corporate masters.

    It’s a disgusting two-fer.

  • The_Fixer

    Make no mistake about it, this crap coming out right now is what the extreme right wing is famous for – attempting to grab the narrative early on and create their own version of events in an attempt to create distrust of the current non-white occupant of the White House. They’ve done it a number of times with mixed results. It’s gotten so bad that it’s spawned sites like Politifact (questionable) and Snopes (a lot better) The key to the success of it all is to get their version of the story out there ASAP.

    They know that in a lot of cases, people have a natural tendency to accept as truth whatever version of the story they hear first. Quickly disseminating their fabricated version of the truth is important for that reason. The “I have a buddy who was there” e-mail has been particularly effective for them in a number of situations.

    Snopes is filled with loads of their conspiracy theories and outright fabrications, all fully debunked. Part of the great circle of false conspiracy is, of course, denying that the Snopes debunking is accurate.

    I had real-life experience with this chain of propagandizing. I have a acquaintance, an otherwise decent and generous guy, keep sending me these e-mail messages at the height of the Iraq war, just like the ones we’ve all seen. I knew it was a cartload of the finest fertilizer-grade bullshit and found a thorough debunking of it on Snopes, which I sent in reply to him. I got a message back from him quoting other e-mail messages saying that Snopes was biased and not to be believed. I sent him a couple of links to various reports generated by neutral parties who had checked into Snopes, their founders/operators and their political affiliations. The results of all of this investigation was that Snopes’ investigations are about as neutral as one could hope for in this day and age. If anything, they err on the side of “undetermined”. I never got another one of those e-mail messages from my acquaintance again.

    This crap is the worst kind of social engineering, and it is truly social engineering by sociopaths.

  • Silver_Witch

    And the poor man (Bergdahl) will be tortured even more by the people here at home that he tried to serve simply because it was President Obama that was in office at the time the release was negotiated. How sad….and that they (the WNs) have not shame over it…sadder still.

  • Silver_Witch

    Indeed PappyVet indeed. Who cares about their medical care, their mental health or their repeated returns to tours of duty because there are too few to serve in all the conflicts they find to put out soliders in harm’s way.

    I for one am sick to death of their two-faced treatment of our men, women, sons and daughters.

    I say, next time they need a little war – THEY CAN ALL GO and SERVE!!! And we keep our soliders here safe, warm and loved.

  • mirror

    Thank you for your polite reply to my less-than-polite comment. I absolutely agree with your point here. It is horrible that we send these men and women to fight in support of our policy objectives and refuse to go all out to help and support them afterwards, either based their status as veterans or based on needs we should be responding to for all our citizens. The callousness of this is made all the worse in that the same people who use their suffering and sacrifice as justification for the war they are fighting in, by some horribly twisted circular reasoning, those same people afterward look down on them for mental and physical scars they get in the process. There are so many ways “I respect your service” plays out in real life as a total con.

    My point is that the tax cutters and war mongers would like nothing better than for us to believe or even consider that the resources needed for helping veterans, the help they earned and believed was part of their compact with society, that those resources are somehow being diverted to animal shelters and studies of swamp mice.

  • pappyvet

    I believe that I stated in a previous post that the only uses the wingnuts have for the military is to pretend to be tough by sending them to die and to garner votes with a bunch of flag waving B.S.
    I have not changed my opinion.

  • 4th Turning

    Appreciate your taking a moment to reply. This is what I was attempting to
    address in BeccaM’s comment:

    “America’s servicemen and -women exist only to be used up and discarded.
    For them, Bergdahl committed the unpardonable double sin of being noticed and failing to be dead.”

    Her point and mine:

    Summary of Veterans Statistics for PTSD, TBI, Depression and Suicide.
    there are over 2.3 million American veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars (compared to 2.6 million Vietnam veterans who fought in Vietnam; there are 8.2 million “Vietnam Era Veterans” (personnel who served anywhere during any time of the Vietnam War)
    at least 20% of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have PTSD and/or Depression. (Military counselors I have interviewed state that, in their opinion, the percentage of veterans with PTSD is much higher; the number climbs higher when combined with TBI.) Other accepted studies have found a PTSD prevalence of 14%; see a complete review of PTSD prevalence studies, which quotes studies with findings ranging from 4 -17% of Iraq War veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder)
    50% of those with PTSD do not seek treatment
    out of the half that seek treatment, only half of them get “minimally adequate” treatment (RAND study)
    19% of veterans may have traumatic brain injury (TBI)
    Over 260,000 veterans from OIF and OEF so far have been diagnosed with TBI. Traumatic brain injury is much more common in the general population than previously thought: according to the CDC, over 1,700,000 Americans have a traumatic brain injury each year; in Canada 20% of teens had TBI resulting in hospital admission or that involved over 5 minutes of unconsciousness (VA surgeon reporting in BBC News)
    7% of veterans have both post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury
    rates of post-traumatic stress are greater for these wars than prior conflicts
    in times of peace, in any given year, about 4% (actually 3.6%) of the general population have PTSD (caused by natural disasters, car accidents, abuse, etc.)
    recent statistical studies show that rates of veteran suicide are much higher than previously thought (see suicide prevention page).
    PTSD distribution between services for OND, OIF, and OEF: Army 67% of cases, Air Force 9%, Navy 11%, and Marines 13%. (Congressional Research Service, Sept. 2010)
    recent sample of 600 veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan found: 14% post-traumatic stress disorder; 39% alcohol abuse; 3% drug abuse. Major depression also a problem. “Mental and Physical Health Status and Alcohol and Drug Use Following Return From Deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan.” Susan V. Eisen, PhD
    Oddly, statistics for veteran tobacco use are never reported alongside PTSD statistics, even though increases in rates of smoking are strongly correlated with the stress of deployment and combat, and smoking statistics show that tobacco use is tremendously damaging and costly for soldiers.

    More active duty personnel die by own hand than combat in 2012 (New York Times)

    http://www.veteransandptsd.com/PTSD-statistics.html

  • mirror

    to paraphrase:

    First they came for the chickens, and I didn’t do anything because I wasn’t a chicken…

    Finally, they came for the humans…

    It plays right into the hands of our economic masters for you to argue that one should limit empathy and compassion to approved objects. “I can’t be worried about climate change hurting people in Bangladesh because acting on those feelings will hurt OUR economy.” “Giving government help to brown people will mean there is no help for MY family.” You really think animal rescue shares the blame for the inhuman heartlessness of the right wing and liberal corporatists toward their fellow man? You understanding that less money goes into that in this country than is spent on auto detailing? At least Chomsky bothered to go after something truly widespread when he compared the interest and intelligence poured into sports to the lack of thought put into politics and economics by the ordinary citizen.

    Why don’t you have the guts to go after the indulgers in auto detailing? Or sports enthusiasts, in your either or world? Attacking empathy for animals will only decrease empathy for other humans.

  • Jim Olson

    Note the utter lack of outrage from the right that we were there in an illegal and purposeless war in the first place, where thousands of other soldiers have died.

  • Jim Olson

    Amen. The rest of the armchair soldiers who never actually served can now just STFU.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    But if you listen to the Fox-indoctrinated wingnuts, that’s how they feel about anybody who isn’t their immediate family or friends now: “F*ck off and die.”

    The guy who failed to buy health insurance, for whatever reason? “Let him die!” was their shout.

    Even now, the wingnuts harp over whether it was a “good deal” to trade five members of Afghanistan’s former government in exchange for an American citizen and servicemember who’s been a POW for five years. It’s not enough anymore simply to be an American, much less a servicemember who was given that promise, “No matter how badly you f*ck up, you will be brought home.” No, now these bloody-minded zealots demand that you have to be WORTHY — but only in their judgment. And it doesn’t even matter if that judgment is informed by facts, rumors, baseless assertions, or lies. All that matters is the narrative.

    Hundreds of them all over the web are cutting and pasting a block of text alleging to be (anonymously of course) from members of Bergdahl’s company in Afghanistan. And it’s not enough to just repost the hearsay; they almost always claim the information is from ‘a buddy’ of theirs. Or as one inconsistent and confused liar posted yesterday, first it was ‘a buddy’ then a ‘buddy of (my) son’.

    They won’t suspend judgment or simply wait until Bergdahl is asked the inevitable questions by professional investigators, “Did you leave the base voluntarily? If so, why?” If in fact the evidence is he really did desert his post and was in his right mind when he did so, there’ll be a court martial and he’ll be tossed into Leavenworth. These ravers though? They’ve already declared him guilty and want him to be executed lynch mob-style.

    Unfortunately, Bergdahl’s release was negotiated by the Obama administration. That right there, in the psyche of the unhinged wingnut, is a fatal albatross. Obama could rescue a kitten from in front of a speeding car and they’d go nuts trying to frame that kitten into a Nazi-Communist sympathizer and carrier of rabies who attacks only fundamentalist Christians.

  • http://heimaey.us/ heimaey

    Yes I agree – thanks for the correction!

  • 4th Turning

    Listening to this on FreshAir as I was reading through these comments.
    Yours strikes me as beyond melancholy as I go down my almost endless list of our fellow human beings who are or become disposable-fated to be used up and discarded… It feels almost like some kind of genetic flaw to wind up caring about members of our own species more than or at least equal to the high octane crusaders for caged chickens or abandoned puppies and kittens. (Did you see the story about avocado pickers in Mexico…)

    “One young man described arriving at a new facility just as a fight broke out in the dormitory to which he had been assigned. And although he hadn’t been involved, his whole dorm was stripped to their boxers, handcuffed, chained together, taken to the gymnasium and forced to kneel there for what turned out to be two weeks. Is fear the right word for what you feel during an experience like that? I don’t know, because, again, he described his humanity draining out of him as he listened to the guards banter and tell jokes and just pass the time, as if these were something other than suffering human beings on the floor in front of them. …”

    http://www.npr.org/2014/06/04/318801651/burning-down-the-house-makes-the-case-against-juvenile-incarceration

  • cole3244

    maybe if the rw gopers keep doing things that are not in the military’s best interests the vets might start realizing that their support is counter productive to their and americas best interests.

  • pvequalkt

    slight correction. those guys are nameless, faceless subhuman fodder sent to die for corporate profits and predatory capitalism.

    “I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. … ” — General Smedley Butler, USMC, recipient of 2 congressional medals of honor; 1935;

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    As near as I can tell, for them, America’s servicemen and -women exist only to be used up and discarded.

    For them, Bergdahl committed the unpardonable double sin of being noticed and failing to be dead.

  • Henson

    Charlie Pierce is always worth reading, even on his bad days. A true wordsmith, who approaches political snark with a craftsman’s eye.

  • Monte Logan

    the perfect explanation

  • Gindy51

    And what person in their right mind would sign on to a military career of any duration and NOT depend on that organization to move heaven and earth to get them out of harm’s way? If we start leaving people behind ON PURPOSE (which is what the right would do in this case) we won’t have a military because no one will join up no matter how hard up they are.
    Bring the soldier home, get him healthy, and then see if he is a deserter. We never, ever leave anyone in the hands of a foreign power no matter what they may have done. We sure as shit did not leave soldiers who murdered innocent civilians over there to face the local’s justice…

  • http://heimaey.us/ heimaey

    The right has never really cared about the troops. This is just more proof. They are faceless, nameless toys they can send to die for “freedom.”

  • HereinDC

    Here’s an everyday example I came up with:
    A snowboarder goes up the ski lift following all the rules…..then the snowboarder decides he wants to board in the off limits zone. The boarder gets caught in an avalanche. Do we just say: “Too Bad, He Didn’t Follow the Rules, We’ll Just Let Him Die.” No……we rescue him and he then has to deal with the consequences.

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