Sunday, November 9, 2014

Veterans Day, Tom Horn and Robert O'Neill

Dale Matson

This Tuesday we will celebrate Veterans Day to honor those individuals who are serving or have served our country in the military. While I am a service veteran from the Vietnam era, I did not have to make the sacrifice of other veterans who paid the ultimate price of service and died for their country.

Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen including women of many generations have represented our country in battle both on native soil and in foreign lands. My generation was the last to be drafted into military service. The U.S. went to an all volunteer military in 1973. It is probably good because Vietnam was an unpopular war with many men evading the draft or fleeing to Canada if they were drafted. There were no heroes in the Vietnam era according to the press of the day.

Veterans Day is a holiday begrudgingly offered up by many as a token gesture by a society that little understands the daily sacrifices of those in the military. Civilians are hypocritical and fickle. They really don't want to know about the carnage that takes place in battle any more than they want to know the process that brings meat to their dinner table. Modern war reporting is sanitized with phrases like “targets of opportunity” and “surgical strikes”. Both phrases refer to killing other humans.

What the public wants are warriors who will do their bidding and accomplish in reality what they only fantasize about. They want men who will do the dirty jobs, sight unseen. Just don't let anyone know you hired him. When the war is over those same warriors are pushed aside, poorly compensated, given 2nd rate medical care and generally ignored. Some of our career soldiers have been recycled from battlefield to battlefield so often they are deeply bruised on the inside when they get outside.

These warriors lack the social graces of “civilized” folks (combat has a way of doing that) but the reality is they allow us to feel clean and above it all. When we saw the charcoal corpses of Iraqi soldiers that had attempted to flee Kuwait, we were appalled and stopped short of Bagdad. What we didn't see was even worse.

Tom Horn was a real life person who had a military background. He was a scout and tracker and helped apprehend Geronimo. Steve McQueen loosely portrayed his life in a 1980 movie. He was a warrior also with a presence that commanded authority. He worked for the Pinkerton Detective agency. He was hired by a cattle company to get cattle rustlers. He usually warned them first but often wound up killing them. This is a partial description of the movie plot, “Horn's methods are brutal but effective. After a public gunfight, the local townspeople become alarmed at his violent nature and public opinion turns against him. The owners of the large cattle companies realize that while he is doing exactly what they hired him to do, his tactics will ultimately tarnish their image and begin to plot his demise.”
Eventually Horn was framed for murder, put on trial on trumped up charges and hung by the ‘good’ people who hired him.

Robert O'Neill is the Navy Seal who was on the team that assassinated Osama Bin Laden. Here is a partial background. “One of the nation’s most decorated veterans, O’Neill has been decorated more than 52 times with honors, including two Silver Stars, four Bronze Stars with Valor, a Joint Service Commendation Medal with Valor, three Presidential Unit citations, and two Navy/Marine Corps Commendations with Valor.”

He is the face of those who fight for us. He has chosen not to remain anonymous, to tell his story. There is criticism from some quarters that he broke the code of silence by disclosing his identity and the particulars of the mission against Bin Laden. There is even talk of bringing him back into the service and prosecuting him. Does this sound familiar? The fact remains that Leon Panetta also released details of the raid. “Then-CIA Director Leon Panetta revealed secret information to a Hollywood filmmaker about the Osama bin Laden raid when he gave a CIA speech attended by “Zero Dark Thirty” screenwriter Mark Boal, according to newly released documents.”

Additionally, Vice President Joe Biden publically revealed that it was Seal Team Six that killed Bin Laden, Putting them at risk. “The families of three fallen Navy SEAL Team Six members say President Obama and Vice President Biden are culpable for the deaths of their sons for publicly identifying the unit that killed Osama bin Laden.”

Robert O'Neill went on these missions willing and expecting to die for his country and for those who died on 9/11. He is a hero to me. I hope he has something to live for also.

On Veterans Day please do remember the military personnel currently serving and veterans who have served our country. They are to be honored not discarded, disparaged, patronized, ignored or pursued by hypocrites.   

1 comment:

  1. 20 veterans commit suicide every day. How many times can you recycle a solider in battle before he breaks?