Tuesday, October 23, 2007

If It Weren't For the Honor ...

President Bush on Monday awarded the first Medal of Honor given for service in the Afghanistan theater of the Global War on Terror, the only venue worth shedding blood in.

The recipient was a Navy
Seal named Michael Murphy of Patchogue, NY. Unfortunately, he wasn’t there to accept it because in the fruitless hunt for Taliban/Al Qaeda leaders, his work earned him a posthumous medal. Here is a partial account from the New York Times:

But then, according to Hospital Corpsman Marcus Luttrell, the unit’s only survivor that day, Lieutenant Murphy made his way toward the exposed ridge between the mountains, making him an easy target. “I was cursing at him from where I was,” he recalled in an interview. “I was saying, ‘What are you doing?’ Then I realized that he was making a call. But then he started getting hit. He finished the call, picked up his rifle and started fighting again. But he was overrun.”

The call placed by Lieutenant Murphy led American commanders to dispatch a small rescue force that included an MH-47 Chinook helicopter with eight Seals members and eight Army special operations soldiers. But a rocket-propelled grenade struck the slow-moving helicopter as it approached, killing all 16 men aboard. Lieutenant Murphy and two others in his unit were killed in the firefight. Corpsman Luttrell escaped, and took refuge in a village until he was rescued several days later.

If I read this correctly, four SEALS were going to get captured or killed, but instead Murphy got three of his unit killed (including himself) and indirectly caused the death of 16 others. Now, I know the other 16 were not his fault, but this reminds me of the folk song parody about the cowboy riding a runaway train that is approaching a baby girl tied to the tracks. The cowboy lassoes a tree, saves the girl and kills 300 people when the train derails from the sudden stop.

It also seems to me that medals are given not to honor the casualties but to tell gullible recruits they, too, will be honored when they make the ultimate sacrifice. Maybe if we stopped giving medals, parades, Super Bowl flyovers and God Bless America at the 7th inning stretch, there would be less war.

OK. Back to our regularly scheduled reality.

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