General George Patton once said, “It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God such men lived.” On May 5, 1868, General John Logan, the Commander of the Grand Army issued General Order 11, which stated that May 30th should be observed as Decoration Day. Decoration Day would become what we now know as Memorial Day. General Logan’s order stated that the day would be “for the purpose of strewing flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land.”
Freedom has never been free. From our nation’s earliest days individuals have volunteered to serve our nation and lost their lives. Individuals like Nathaniel Hale who was hanged as a spy during the Revolutionary War stated, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” Our nation owes so much to those brave service members who have lost their lives protecting our nation and our freedoms. We should remember all those brave military members like SFC. Mihail Golin who was killed in Afghanistan and Master Sgt. Jonathan Dunbar who was killed in Syria. Remember Johnny Michael Spann, Navy SEAL Neil Roberts, SFC Nathan Chapman, Marine Sgt. Wade Wilson, Lt. Col. Christopher K. Raible, Senior Airman Bradley Smith, and 3rd Class Nathan Bruckenthal among so many others who we owe so much for their sacrifice.
We should remember their families and all the families of those who have lost their lives to secure our freedom. God Bless our country and all those who serve in uniform!
Many heroes emerged from the fighting in Fallujah, Iraq in 2004, but none more noteworthy than First Sergeant Brad Kasal. On November 13, 2004, First Sergeant Kasal heard enemy gunfire to his front and learned that Marines were pinned down inside a structure. He joined a squad of Marines entering the structure to rescue the Marines inside. He eliminated an insurgent fighter upon entering the first room. While moving towards a wounded Marine, First Sergeant Kasal and another Marine were severely wounded. The insurgents then threw hand grenades into the room attempting to kill the Marines. First Sergeant Kasal rolled on top of the other Marine to shield him from the shrapnel with his body.
When offered medical attention and extraction, Kasal refused until the other wounded Marines were taken care of first. He shouted encouragement to his fellow Marines as they cleared the structure of the insurgents. With seven bullet wounds, over 43 pieces of shrapnel and his leg nearly severed he was carried out of the structure by two Marines. Bleeding profusely, with his pistol in one hand and his Ka-Bar in his other hand, a freelance photographer, Lucian Read captured that moment in time with an iconic photograph. For his bravery, leadership and dedication to duty, First Sergeant Kasal was awarded the Navy Cross in 2006.
While Kasal was always an inspiration for his Marines he showed true grit returning to duty after undergoing numerous operations. When doctors recommended that he accept amputation of his leg and retire, Kasal showed his toughness and personal courage keeping his leg and returning to service within the Marine Corps.
Kasal was promoted to Sergeant Major and served in a number of positions to include his last command as Sergeant Major of I MEF. In 2012, Nathaniel Helms wrote, “My Men are My Heroes: The Brad Kasal Story” which provided insight into this hard charging grunt. The book follows Kasal’s days growing up in Afton, Iowa, to joining the Marine Corps, to Fallujah, and his fighting for life and recovery. One learns the character of this Marine.
Sergeant Major Kasal is a Marine’s Marine. Humble, courageous and a leader of warriors. For thirty-four years he served his country until his retirement last week. Our country owes warriors like Sergeant Major Kasal so much for their service. There are so many silent but legendary leaders that the social media generation never learns about. In this age of self-adulation and “likes” Sgt. Major Kasal is a leader who puts his men first and never worries about tweets, likes or recognition. He is a true Marine in the spirit of John Basilone, “Hashmark” Johnson, and Chesty Puller. We should all give thanks that our country has great leaders like Sgt. Major Brad Kasal who served their country and trained that next generation of leaders. And as Sgt. Major Kasal once said, “thank you for doing what many would not.” Semper Fidelis!
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the terrorist mastermind of the 9/11 attacks wants to dish some information on the nominee for Director of Central Intelligence, Gina Haspel. The New York Times has an article entitled “9/11 Planner, Tortured by C.I.A., Asks to Tell Senators About Gina Haspel.” Hopefully this doesn’t come to fruition. This honorable woman has spent 33 years in the service of her nation in numerous undercover positions for the CIA. Today in our hallowed halls of government Gina Haspel answered numerous barbed questions from Senators from one party. While that is part of the nomination process we don’t need to hear from a terrorist. Maybe the New York Times and certain Senators have forgotten who KSM is and the grief he caused.
KSM helped finance his nephew, Ramzi Yousef’s first attack on the World Trade Center and Operation Bojinka. Operation Bojinka was Yousef’s plan to detonate twelve aircraft flying to the US over the Pacific Ocean. KSM also beheaded Danny Pearl, a Wall Street journalist in Pakistan and videotaped this horrific murder. When asked if that was hard KSM stated no it wasn’t “I had very sharp knives. Just like slaughtering sheep.” KSM told his interrogators, “I cut Daniel’s throat with these blessed hands.” We shouldn’t have to see or hear anything written with those hands.
KSM has always thought himself to be very smart. “Call me Mukhtar,” which means the Brain. “I was the amir of the 9/11 attacks.” We should be smart enough to see what this terrorist is doing and not allow him the freedom to attempt to interject anything into the confirmation hearing of someone who has dedicated her life to service.
Because of KSM there are now 2,983 names of victims on memorials in New York City. There are memorials in Pennsylvania and outside of the Pentagon. There is a star on a wall at CIA HQ to honor Mike Spann, the first American killed in Afghanistan. For without KSM all these individuals would be alive today doing great things.
After the confirmation of Gina Haspel, the Congress needs to do something meaningful-see that all the detainees including KSM have a trial. Justice is being delayed and we are paying for it. We shouldn’t have to hear from the mastermind of 9/11.