Commentary Magazine


Posts For: August 6, 2011

America Mourns the Loss of 30 of Our Finest

The celebration over the raid that killed Osama bin Laden–detailed in a long New Yorker article that came out last week–has now turned to mourning. Thirty Special Operators, including apparently members of the Navy’s SEAL Team Six which took down bin Laden, died in a terrible crash of a Chinook helicopter south of Kabulon Saturday. The downing of the transport helicopter underscores the risks these operators run–and makes their commitment and heroism all the more evident.

I recall visiting one Special Operations headquarters not long ago and seeing a wall of honor with pictures of all those who had fallen in the line of duty. It was depressing to see how many pictures were on that wall–all of them top-flight professionals killed far far too young. But it was also inspiring to know that, despite all those losses, there are still so many volunteers willing to put on their body armor, climb aboard a Chinook or Black Hawk every night and fly off to do battle with the most dangerous terrorists on the planet.

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The celebration over the raid that killed Osama bin Laden–detailed in a long New Yorker article that came out last week–has now turned to mourning. Thirty Special Operators, including apparently members of the Navy’s SEAL Team Six which took down bin Laden, died in a terrible crash of a Chinook helicopter south of Kabulon Saturday. The downing of the transport helicopter underscores the risks these operators run–and makes their commitment and heroism all the more evident.

I recall visiting one Special Operations headquarters not long ago and seeing a wall of honor with pictures of all those who had fallen in the line of duty. It was depressing to see how many pictures were on that wall–all of them top-flight professionals killed far far too young. But it was also inspiring to know that, despite all those losses, there are still so many volunteers willing to put on their body armor, climb aboard a Chinook or Black Hawk every night and fly off to do battle with the most dangerous terrorists on the planet.

Occasionally, the veil is lifted on their activities, when there is a particularly notable victory such as the killing of bin Laden–or a particularly notable defeat such as Saturday’s helicopter crash. But mostly they operate in the shadows, these “quiet professionals” who risk their lives out of dedication to their country, knowing they will earn scant reward beyond perhaps a few ribbons on their chest and the respect of their peers.

The debt we owe them is inestimable and looms especially large on a day such as this when all Americans mourn the loss of 30 of our finest young men.

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