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.


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Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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