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'You know the sacrifice now' — 2 post-9/11 Medal of Honor recipients on the importance of war stories
At a remote outpost in Afghanistan on Oct. 3, 2009, a handful of American soldiers held back an assault by as many as 300 Taliban fighters during the Battle of Kamdesh. Though the attack was repelled, and as many as 150 Taliban fighters were killed, it came at a terrible cost: Eight Americans died, and 27 were wounded.
The heroism and sacrifice that took place at Combat Outpost Keating have been chronicled in numerous award citations, articles, multiple books — including one by Romesha — and soon, will appear in two feature-length films.
And on Nov. 9, Netflix launched a new documentary series, Medal of Honor, which includes episodes profiling both Romesha and Carter. The docuseries uses a mix of interviews, combat footage, and cinematic reenactments to tell the stories of eight recipients of the nation's highest award for valor.
Perhaps the greatest insight from the series, and from past interviews with Carter and Romesha, isn't about what they did at COP Keating, but why they choose to share their stories with others.
"All of a sudden being thrust into the limelight was a lot to handle at first, but then I really kind of realized that we as veterans are kind of doing ourselves a disservice by not sharing our experiences," Romesha explained near the end of his episode of Medal of Honor.
After Taliban fighters had made it into the perimeter of the outpost, Romesha, though wounded, led a counteroffensive to push them back.
“It weighs heavy, but to sit here and talk about it — to sit here and share it with others, I get to dump a bit of that weight on you, and you get to help me carry it now because you know the sacrifice now," Romesha continued. "You know their names, and maybe have a little more of an understanding of what service to country means."
"We as veterans are kind of doing ourselves a disservice by not sharing our experiences"
— Clint Romesha
Carter expressed a similar sentiment when I interviewed him in 2016.
“By speaking and telling the story, it's a therapy for me," Carter told Task & Purpose. “It helps me through my stress and it also chips away from the survivor's guilt I have. At that position, out of the eight, five were either killed or mortally wounded, so when you watch that and you know what happened all around you, you know what these guys did to help save you, you feel like you have to tell people what these guys did. It's never a 'have to,' it's always a choice."
During the battle, Carter repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire as he attempted to rescue a fellow soldier, Spc. Stephan L. Mace, who tragically succumbed to his wounds.
“I don't like doing it," he continued. “It hurts every time I speak about it, but I think it's necessary. It helps me out."
Netflix's documentary series Medal of Honor is streaming online starting Nov. 9.
Senior defense officials offered a wide range of excuses to reporters on Wednesday about why they may not comply with a subpoena from House Democrats for documents related to the ongoing impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
On Oct. 7, lawmakers subpoenaed information about military aid to Ukraine. Eight days later, a Pentagon official told them to pound sand in part because many of the documents requested are communications with the White House that are protected by executive privilege.
Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) will announce legislation Wednesday aiming to "fix" a new Trump administration citizenship policy that affects some children of U.S. service members stationed abroad.
The inside story of how The Village People shot the Navy's most controversial recruiting video onboard an active warship
The video opens innocently enough. A bell sounds as we gaze onto a U.S. Navy frigate, safely docked at port at Naval Base San Diego. A cadre of sailors, dressed in "crackerjack" style enlisted dress uniforms and hauling duffel bags over their shoulders, stride up a gangplank aboard the vessel. The officer on deck greets them with a blast of a boatswain's call. It could be the opening scene of a recruitment video for the greatest naval force on the planet.
Then the rhythmic clapping begins.
This is no recruitment video. It's 'In The Navy,' the legendary 1979 hit from disco queens The Village People, shot aboard the very real Knox-class USS Reasoner (FF-1063) frigate. And one of those five Navy sailors who strode up that gangplank during filming was Ronald Beck, at the time a legal yeoman and witness to one of the strangest collisions between the U.S. military and pop culture of the 20th century.
"They picked the ship and they picked us, I don't know why," Beck, who left the Navy in 1982, told Task & Purpose in a phone interview from his Texas home in October. "I was just lucky to be one of 'em picked."
Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Tuesday casually brushed aside the disturbing news that, holy shit, MORE THAN 100 ISIS FIGHTERS HAVE ESCAPED FROM JAIL.
In an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, Esper essentially turned this fact into a positive, no doubt impressing public relations and political talking heads everywhere with some truly masterful spin.
"Of the 11,000 or so detainees that were imprisoned in northeast Syria, we've only had reports that a little more than a hundred have escaped," Esper said, adding that the Syrian Democratic Forces were continuing to guard prisons, and the Pentagon had not "seen this big prison break that we all expected."
Well, I feel better. How about you?
On Wednesday, the top U.S. envoy in charge of the global coalition to defeat ISIS said much the same, while adding another cherry on top: The United States has no idea where those 100+ fighters went.
A senior administration official told reporters on Wednesday the White House's understanding is that the SDF continues to keep the "vast majority" of ISIS fighters under "lock and key."
"It's obviously a fluid situation on the ground that we're monitoring closely," the official said, adding that released fighters will be "hunted down and recaptured." The official said it was Turkey's responsibility to do so.
President Trump expressed optimism on Wednesday about what was happening on the ground in northeast Syria, when he announced that a ceasefire between Turkey and the Kurds was expected to be made permanent.
"Turkey, Syria, and all forms of the Kurds have been fighting for centuries," Trump said. "We have done them a great service and we've done a great job for all of them — and now we're getting out."
The president boasted that the U.S.-brokered ceasefire had saved the lives of tens of thousands of Kurds "without spilling one drop of American blood."
Kade Kurita, the 20-year-old West Point cadet who had been missing since Friday evening, was found dead on Tuesday night, the U.S. Military Academy announced early Wednesday morning.
"We are grieving this loss and our thoughts and prayers go out to Cadet Kurita's family and friends," Lt. Gen. Darryl Williams, superintendent of West Point, said in the release.