Tuesday, April 21, 2015

General Martin Dempsey issues an Apology


A few of you have written asking me about the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Army General Martin Dempsey and how he responded callously to reports that Ramadi, Iraq has fallen to ISIS.

Gen. Dempsey has come under fire from lawmakers and Veterans groups for downplaying the strategic importance of Ramadi. Yes, Gen. Dempsey said that he saw no strategic importance to a place which cost us the lives of so many Americans troops to take in the first place.

His description has caught many people off guard. His words are making people wonder why a U.S Army General, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, would trivialize those American troops who were wounded and paid the ultimate sacrifice by being killed in action?

Why would the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs say the lose of a capital of Iraq's northern province of Anbar, the fall of Ramadi to ISIS is "not symbolic in any way"? 

Maybe this is more of the change that Obama promised us? Maybe it is now accepted as no big deal to lose the ground that was won with the blood and deaths of American troops?

Remember, even Hillary Clinton famously asked "what difference does it make" when she was asked about not furnishing American military support for those four Americans in Libya who were left there to die by Obama and Clinton.

Maybe the Obama administration's hatred for our military has adversely affected our Joint Chiefs of Staff?  All of these were my first reactions to hearing about Gen. Dempsey's asinine statements.

In an open letter, Debbie Lee, whose son Marc was the first Navy SEAL casualty in Ramadi, responded to his remarks.

She wrote:

I am shaking and tears are flowing down my cheeks as I watch the news and listen to the insensitive, pain inflicting comments made by you in regards to the fall of Ramadi.

“The city itself is not symbolic in any way”? Oh, really? Are you willing to meet with me and with the families who have lost a son, daughter, husband, wife, father, mother, aunt, uncle, grandson, or teammate?

My son Marc Lee was the first Navy SEAL who sacrificed his life in Ramadi Iraq Aug 2, 2006. His blood is still in that soil and forever will be. Remember that was when so many of our loved ones were taken from us. You said that “it’s not been declared part of the caliphate on one hand or central to the future of Iraq.” My son and many others gave their future in Ramadi. Ramadi mattered to them. Many military analysts say that as goes Ramadi so goes Iraq.

What about the troops who sacrificed their limbs and whose lives will never be the same. Our brave warriors who left a piece of themselves in Ramadi. What about the troops who struggle with PTS/TBI who watched their teammates breath their last or carried their wounded bodies to be medevac’d out of Ramadi.

I’ve traveled to Ramadi and visited Camp Marc Lee in 2007. I brought back soil from that city where Marc breathed his last. I interviewed Iraqi General Anwer in 2010 when I returned. I asked him “If you could say one thing to the American people what would you tell them? He paused and with deep emotion said “We will tell our children, our grandchildren, for generations to come we will tell them what Americans have done. There is American blood poured out on our soil.” It seems the Iraqis understand the importance more than you do sir.

You sir owe an apology to the families whose loved ones blood was shed in Ramadi. Ramadi matters to us and is very symbolic to us. You need to apologize to our troops whose bodies were blown to pieces from IEDs and bullet holes leaving parts and pieces behind, Ramadi matters to them. You need to apologize to our troops who endured the extreme temperatures and battled the terrorists in some of the worst battlefields in Iraq, Ramadi matters to them. They carry vivid memories of the battles and the teammates whose future is gone, Ramadi matters to them.

You and this administration have minimized that Ramadi could fall, now you are minimizing that it is falling, but you Sir WILL NOT minimize the sacrifice my son Marc Lee made or any of our brave warriors!

Awaiting an Apology
Debbie Lee

I want to say that the callous disregard for those who fought and died, and regarding those who were wounded, in Ramadi is unbelievably overwhelming.

And yes, Gen. Martin Dempsey owes an apology to Debbie Lee as well as to the hundreds of other parents who lost their sons fighting to take Ramadi -- or had their sons returned wounded.

This morning, April 21st, it was reported that Gen. Martin Dempsey issued an apology to Debbie Lee.

The Gold Star mom complained that the joint chiefs chairman trivialized the Iraqi town where her son became the first Navy SEAL to die in the Iraq War.

The Arizona mother and founder of the group, America's Mighty Warriors, promptly penned an open letter to Dempsey, roundly criticizing him for the "insensitive, pain-inflicting comments" about Ramadi – which became the epicenter for insurgency groups after the fall of Fallujah in 2004.

“The city itself is not symbolic in any way”? Oh, really? Are you willing to meet with me and with the families who have lost a son, daughter, husband, wife, father, mother, aunt, uncle, grandson, or teammate?” Lee wrote to Dempsey.


Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey told a Gold Star mother he was sorry for the way his words came off.

Lee got an apology in the form of a letter on Monday.

“I've read your letter, and I do apologize if I've added to your grief,” Dempsey wrote.

“Marc and so many others died fighting to provide a better future for Iraq. He and those with whom he served did all that their nation asked. They won their fight, and nothing will ever diminish their accomplishments nor the honor in which we hold their service,” he said.

But, Dempsey noted, “We are in a different fight now, with a different enemy, and with a different relationship with the Government of Iraq.”

“They must determine the path and pace of this fight. That's what I intended to convey,” he wrote.

Debbie Lee is, as she should be, very protective of the memory of her son, Navy SEAL Marc Lee, who died fighting in Ramadi.

Lee, who said Dempsey is expected to call her by phone later today, described the letter as a “soft apology” but said, “it’s still an apology and that’s huge.”

“I accept it,” she told FoxNews.com, “Though I’m going to be watching and I won’t hesitate to call him out again if I hear something that’s not right.”

Lee was 28 when he was killed in Ramadi on Aug. 2, 2006, after fellow SEAL Team 3 member Ryan "Biggles" Job was seriously injured by sniper fire. 

While other SEALs tended to Job, Lee single-handedly provided cover fire and was mortally wounded. He was posthumously awarded the Silver Star, the Bronze Star with Valor and the Purple Heart.

I have to say that Gen. Dempsey surprised me with his asinine statements. And yes, I lost a lot of respect for the man,

Much of my respect for him has now been restored as a result of his apology. It takes a big person to admit when he or she is wrong about something.

I frankly didn't think he's issue an apology, but I am certainly glad that he has.

And yes, that's just the way I see it.

Tom Correa

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