Thursday, October 18, 2007

Medal of Honor Awardee Ignored

Next week the Congressional Medal of Honor will be posthumously awarded to Navy Lieutenant SEAL Mike Murphy from New York. The medal will be presented to his family by the President at the White House.

This will be the first Medal of Honor awarded for the fight in Afghanistan against Al Qaeda and the Taliban, and the third during the war against terrorists.

Lieutenant Murphy’s heroism is detailed in the book “Lone Survivor” written by Marcus Luttrell, the only member of Lieutenant Murphy’s four man reconnaissance team still alive after a fight with over 100 Taliban in the mountains of Afghanistan.

Not surprisingly, The New York Times didn’t even mention the awarding of our nation’s highest honor for valor to a home state boy.

Their neglect of this remarkable story is to be expected. After all, as the icon of liberal mainstream news, why would they ever report something positive about the military?

After dozens and dozens of front page stories about Abu Ghraib, they have no room, ideologically, for reporting the extraordinary heroism of one of the world’s most elite warriors.

But, it also seems appropriate that they didn’t cover the story. After reading Marcus Luttrell’s account of Lieutenant Murphy’s final day, I have doubts that Lieutenant Murphy or Luttrell would have wanted the bastion of liberal media to cover it.

On that fateful day in 2005, while conducting a reconnaissance mission in the Hindu Kush, their four man team was accidentally happened upon by three Afghani goat herders.

What ensued was a discussion among the four SEALs about what to do with the three Afghanis. The rules of engagement weren’t specific enough for them to decide whether they should kill, detain, or release the men.

During the debate, Lieutenant Murphy pointed out that if they killed the three men, “The media in the U.S.A. will latch on to it and write stuff about the brutish U.S. Armed Forces. Very shortly after that, we’ll be charged with murder.”

At that point, Luttrell confessed that even though he wasn’t afraid of the Taliban, he was “afraid of the liberal media back in the U.S.A.”

As the discussion continued, Lieutenant Murphy again stated that “…the liberal media will attack us without mercy” if they killed the three.

The four SEALs weighed the strategic, tactical, safety, legal, and religious implications on the rules of engagement as best they could.

Unfortunately, these men served during a time with a biased liberal media, bent more toward an ideology, less toward honest and accurate news reporting, and one with an eager willingness to publicly sacrifice members of the military, often without proof. In this environment, Lieutenant Murphy had to consider the impact of the press against his men, the mission at hand, and the strategic blow the press was likely to deal the mission in Afghanistan.

In the end Lieutenant Murphy decided to let the men go. The three immediately alerted the Taliban who then attacked them en masse.

The four fought valiantly, making one fighting withdrawal after another down the side of a mountain. When all other options failed, Lieutenant Murphy moved to an open area where his satellite phone would work, exposed himself to heavy gun fire, made a call for a rescue, was shot in the back during the call, but finished and continued to fight until his death.

Sadly, as I read through this account, I couldn’t keep the blaring headlines of Haditha out of my mind. I could hear John Murtha screaming “cold-blooded” murder as he did about our Marines at Haditha. Similar treatment would have befallen the four had they made a different decision that day.

Their story flashed back through my mind as I read through the recent, relevant words of General Sanchez about the press:

“Unscrupulous reporting…solely focused on supporting your agenda…preconceived notions of what our military had done…no regard for the ‘collateral damage’ you will cause…tactically insignificant events have become strategic defeats for America…unjustly destroyed the individual reputations and careers of those involved…”

Lieutenant Murphy became a hero that day through his courage, fighting spirit, unselfish decision to expose himself to mortally dangerous gunfire, and his decision to err on the side of strategic victory by letting three innocent civilians live despite the personal danger.

Unfortunately he had to weigh the bias of our press in his decision.

Given that, maybe the New York Times, or other decidedly anti-military news organizations, shouldn’t cover the stories of such heroes. They somehow don’t seem worthy enough to print their names or their deeds.

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