Gold Star Family: SEAL Team 6 Killed by Rules of Engagement

Yesterday, several Gold Star Families held a press conference on Capitol Hill to bring attention to the restrictive Rules of Engagement they say are crippling and killing our military. Karen and Billy Vaughn, parents of slain Seal Team 6 member Aaron Vaughn, were joined by John Bernard, a retired Marine First Sergeant whose son was killed in Helmand Province 2009.  The families were supported by Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-TX), Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) and Joel Ahrends, Chairman of Veterans for Strong America.

Rep. Gohmert stated that the press conference was scheduled weeks ago, but emphasized how timely this discussion was in light of the attacks on the US embassy in Libya and Cairo.

Billy Vaughn spoke about his son Aaron, who was killed along with 29 others when the CH-47 Chinook helicopter in which he was riding was shot down. The mission was so risky it had to be approved outside of theater.

When the chopper went down, the air support did not fire to take out the enemy because there might be friendlies in the building and the ROE made no allowances for that. The military present at the operation watched helplessly as the chinook went down and landed under heavy fire, killing everyone on it.

Vaughn said:

"Our military men go to war because they love what is behind them more than they hate what is in front of them.  The least the government can do is give them the tools and the proper equipment and ROE that favor our warriors more than they favor our enemy.  It’s a scary time when the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Dempsey calls a private citizen and instructs him on his first amendment rights so retribution will not be taken against our warriors…. I've had enough apologies for America for a life time."

Karen Vaughn, Aaron’s mother, described Aaron as someone who saw the world in black and white, recognized evil and called it out. She said she is looking for leaders who are proud of American exceptionalism rather than leaders who apologize for it. “We need leaders who put the best interest of our finest and bravest above the interest of our enemies, we need leaders who will stack the deck in our favor.” She urged people to call congress and demand an inquiry into all the problems this administration are ignoring that are getting Americans and Americans’ family members killed.

Rep. Trent Franks was very serious about the threat we are fighting.

"We are dealing with an enemy with an ideology that is beyond the discernment of most Americans … the Commander in Chief has projected such indecision and vacillation and lack of willingness to stand up for the foundation that made us greatest nation in the world, it has not only endangered brave men and women in the battle field but has endangered peace and freedom in the whole world."

He continued that now we are seeing bold, orchestrated attacks on our embassy. They have no fear of this administration. Jimmy Carter responded the same way.

John Bernard, a 26 year veteran of the Marine Corp, lost his son Josh in Helmand Province 2009. He described Josh as a strong Christian, great friend, son and brother.  Josh had completed over 300 combat patrols when he was killed on August 14, 2009, sustaining a direct hit from an RPG.

Bernard had harsh words about the military’s rules of engagement.

"In 2008, leadership got twisted idea about how to deal with the situation were dealing with, how to deal with terrorism. I got news for you; there is no good and bad Islam. There is one way. Read the religion, read the doctrines."

He went on to say that our military has been abandoned by the President, because he refuses to identify the enemy. 

"Three days of garbage, where people are attacking sovereign US territory and sovereign American citizens and what are we doing? Apologizing? Are you kidding me? We have men bleeding on ground because the guy down the street adopted a strategy that has failed since 1940."

Rep. Gohmert pointed out that 70% of American lives lost and 82% of the wounded in Afghanistan have occurred under Commander Obama’s watch.

Joel Ahrends, a Captain in the Army reserve and chairman of Veterans for a Strong America said that [Vaughn and Bernard] fought for us then and now we need to fight for them.

“What is happening on the ground right now is a shame. Congress and the president need to fix it. The ROE right now has our warriors hands tied behind our backs. They are unable to place suppressive fire on the targets, the rules are overly restrictive, we are unable to fight. All our men want to do is win, let them win, let them protect themselves and accomplish the mission."

He called for an inquiry and for a study group on Pakistan and Afghanistan. “We had study group on Iraq, it worked, we won. We need this for Afghanistan.”

Ahrends continued “We need senior members of the military to stop calling out former members of the military and suppressing their speech, to stop engaging in suppressing first amendment rights. They need to be focusing on fighting and winning wars.”

Gohmert added when you have a general that goes public and “asks Americans to give up their rights, the constitutional rights, all the treasure has been spent, people are being asked to give those up?”  He said we need rules of engagement "so that when our Seal Team 6 members were out there and asked to complete a mission and there is a c130 gunship in the area, when they see the ones firing on the chinook and they can take them out, they take them out, or don’t send our men and women in to harm’s way in the first place. “

Gohmert called out Obama over the recent attacks on America in the Middle East and said the President’s attitude was one of “back to the fundraising and cheering for me.”


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