A reader writes:
I agree with everything you say about Bryan Fischer, but there is one thing you have left out: His premise is false. He alludes to a secondary source, and then builds his crass, immoral argument on his interpretation of an incidental comment there. He didn't bother to look at the record to see if, in fact, "every Medal of Honor awarded during these two conflicts has been awarded for saving life. Not one has been awarded for inflicting casualties on the enemy. Not one." Checking the facts would have ruined his rant; several Medals of Honor were awarded for actions that included strong offensive elements.
For example, here is the official citation for the first Medal of Honor awarded for action in Iraq, from the official U.S. Army website:
Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action with an armed enemy near Baghdad International Airport, Baghdad, Iraq on 4 April 2003. On that day, Sergeant First Class Smith was engaged in the construction of a prisoner of war holding area when his Task Force was violently attacked by a company-sized enemy force. Realizing the vulnerability of over 100 fellow soldiers, Sergeant First Class Smith quickly organized a hasty defense consisting of two platoons of soldiers, one Bradley Fighting Vehicle and three armored personnel carriers. As the fight developed, Sergeant First Class Smith braved hostile enemy fire to personally engage the enemy with hand grenades and anti-tank weapons, and organized the evacuation of three wounded soldiers from an armored personnel carrier struck by a rocket propelled grenade and a 60mm mortar round. Fearing the enemy would overrun their defenses, Sergeant First Class Smith moved under withering enemy fire to man a .50 caliber machine gun mounted on a damaged armored personnel carrier. In total disregard for his own life, he maintained his exposed position in order to engage the attacking enemy force. During this action, he was mortally wounded. His courageous actions helped defeat the enemy attack, and resulted in as many as 50 enemy soldiers killed, while allowing the safe withdrawal of numerous wounded soldiers. Sergeant First Class Smith's extraordinary heroism and uncommon valor are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the Third Infantry Division 'Rock of the Marne,' and the United States Army.
And here is the official citation for the first Afghanistan recipient, Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy, from the official Navy site (I changed it from all capital letters):
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life and above and beyond the call of duty as the leader of a special reconnaissance element with Naval Special Warfare task unit Afghanistan on 27 and 28 June 2005. While leading a mission to locate a high-level anti-coalition militia leader, Lieutenant Murphy demonstrated extraordinary heroism in the face of grave danger in the vicinity of Asadabad, Konar Province, Afghanistan. On 28 June 2005, operating in an extremely rugged enemy-controlled area, Lieutenant Murphy's team was discovered by anti-coalition militia sympathizers, who revealed their position to Taliban fighters. As a result, between 100 and 160 enemy fighters besieged his four member team. Demonstrating exceptional resolve, Lieutenant Murphy valiantly led his men in engaging the large enemy force. The ensuing fierce firefight resulted in numerous enemy casualties, as well as the wounding of all four members of the team. Ignoring his own wounds and demonstrating exceptional composure, Lieutenant Murphy continued to lead and encourage his men. When the primary communicator fell mortally wounded, Lieutenant Murphy repeatedly attempted to call for assistance for his beleaguered teammates. Realizing the impossibility of communicating in the extreme terrain, and in the face of almost certain death, he fought his way into open terrain to gain a better position to transmit a call. This deliberate, heroic act deprived him of cover, exposing him to direct enemy fire. Finally achieving contact with his headquarters, Lieutenant Murphy maintained his exposed position while he provided his location and requested immediate support for his team. In his final act of bravery, he continued to engage the enemy until he was mortally wounded, gallantly giving his life for his country and for the cause of freedom. By his selfless leadership, Lieutenant Murphy reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
It is rewarding to read a sampling of Medal of Honor citations from this and other eras, something Wikipedia makes easy. Our nation has always awarded this medal to honor both self-sacrifice and offensive zeal. Sergeant Smith and Lieutenant Murphy each fought aggressively against the enemy and strove also to save the lives of their comrades. Apparently, to Mr. Fischer, their lifesaving negates the killing, "feminizing" the medal.
I am an active duty Army officer, so I usually refrain from commenting on blogs or to bloggers, but I have been reading your blog for several years and know you protect your reader’s anonymity. This Bryan Fischer has crossed a line and I cannot be quiet anymore. Only those who are not combat survivors could trivialize SSG Salvatore Giunta’s heroics.
Part of his citation reads “As he crested the top of a hill…” That sounds like a small thing, but it was huge. That young man ran, he did not creep, he ran into the unknown. He had no idea what was beyond that hilltop, all he knew is that at least two Afghanis had another Soldier and he was going forward. This is after he had already been hit in his body armor and his pistol (the “secondary weapon’ in the citation). Depending on the range of weapon, that’s like being hit by a a baseball bat on an unprotected body. He was shot while he was giving first aid to a wounded Soldier. That means there was a lot of blood. Lots of dust, gravel, and confusion. And enough bullets he was hit twice. And he went forward.
I cannot imagine the hate that must lie in Mr. Fischer’s brain to deride SSG Giunta’s actions or any other of our recent recipients. It’s bad enough when we in the military are used in the politics of division, but I have learned to not take it personally since we are used in the aggregate. But to attack individuals who displayed unbelievable valor is despicable.
Also, this administration should be commended for taking a risk the Bush administration never had the stomach to do - awarding the Medal to a survivor who could speak out in opposition to policy. Finally, “killing people and breaking things” has been around forever. A Colonel used it when I was training as an armor officer in 1986 and the group of 30 or so Second Lieutenants responded with enthusiasm. He dressed us down with something like, "Those are not things we should ever be excited about." I did not really understand until five years later.
The discussion puts me in mind of this batshit crazy comic where Jesus pulls himself off the cross to give the Roman pantheon a superheroic beatdown. No, seriously!