The mother of the first Navy SEAL killed in the Iraq War said the fall of Ramadi over the weekend is “gut wrenching” and blames the Obama administration for failing to recognize its significance.
Debbie Lee’s son, Marc Alan Lee, died in a fierce firefight to secure the Al Anbar Province’s capital city of Ramadi in 2006. For his heroism in combat, Marc received the Silver Star. Anbar Province was the focal point of the Sunni Muslim insurgency in 2006-07. The “surge” ordered by George W. Bush in early 2007 ultimately brought stability to the region.
As ISIS threatened to take Ramadi this past April, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey tried to downplay the city’s strategic significance. He said during a press conference that the fall of Ramadi would not be “symbolic in any way.” He added, “I would much rather that Ramadi not fall, but it won’t be the end of the campaign should it fall.”
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Debbie traveled to Ramadi in 2007, as the Iraq War still waged, to honor her son’s sacrifice and visit Camp Marc Alan Lee, named for the fallen SEAL. She brought back a bag of soil from Ramadi to her home in Arizona. After hearing Dempsey’s assessment, she could not hold back her emotions.
The mother of the fallen hero wrote an open letter to the general:
I am shaking and tears are flowing down my cheeks as I watch the news and listen to the insensitive, pain inflicting comments made by you in regards to the fall of Ramadi.
“The city itself is not symbolic in any way”? Oh, really? Are you willing to meet with me and with the families who have lost a son, daughter, husband, wife, father, mother, aunt, uncle, grandson, or teammate?
My son Marc Lee was the first Navy SEAL who sacrificed his life in Ramadi Iraq Aug 2, 2006. His blood is still in that soil and forever will be. Remember that was when so many of our loved ones were taken from us. You said that “it’s not been declared part of the caliphate on one hand or central to the future of Iraq.” My son and many others gave their future in Ramadi. Ramadi mattered to them. Many military analysts say that as goes Ramadi so goes Iraq…
You sir owe an apology to the families whose loved ones blood was shed in Ramadi. Ramadi matters to us and is very symbolic to us. You need to apologize to our troops whose bodies were blown to pieces from IEDs and bullet holes leaving parts and pieces behind, Ramadi matters to them…
You and this administration have minimized that Ramadi could fall, now you are minimizing that it is falling, but you Sir WILL NOT minimize the sacrifice my son Marc Lee made or any of our brave warriors!
She signed the letter, “Awaiting an apology.”
Gen. Dempsey responded to Lee’s open letter shortly thereafter with a letter of apology and a phone call. Though Lee thought the letter was a “soft” apology, she appreciated what he said during their 15 minute phone conversation.
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In the letter Dempsey wrote, “I do apologize if I’ve added to your grief,” and noted that Marc Alan and the others who fought with him won the fight in their day.
Marc and so many others died fighting to provide a better future for Iraq. He and those with whom he served did all that their nation asked. They won their fight, and nothing will ever diminish their accomplishments nor the honor in which we hold their service.
Dempsey then turned to what is presently happening on the ground, writing, “We are in a different fight now, with a different enemy, and with a different relationship with the Government of Iraq. They must determine the path and pace of this fight.”
During their phone call, Dempsey admitted to Lee that he needed to “restructure or sharpen his language.” She agreed with him and recounted that “He said that what he was trying to say is that [the fall of Ramadi] was not significant to ISIL, that they’re just trying to take every and any territory between where they’re at and Baghdad, and he did not at all mean to make it sound like it wasn’t significant to us and for the loss that was there.”
“I was grateful that he did step up and do the right thing, but we will be watching all of our elected officials to respect our troops,” she added.
Lee founded America’s Mighty Warriors after her son’s death to support our nation’s troops and the families of the fallen.
h/t: The Daily Beast
Do you agree with Debbie Lee that the Obama administration is not honoring the sacrifice of our soldiers? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
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