In Their Own Words: Obama's Effect on Military Families
President Obama seems to have a disregard for those defending America. Recently, on Jon Stewart's The Daily Show, he commented on the death of three Americans and Ambassador Chris Stevens: "... it's not optimal." The mother of Sean Smith, a Foreign Service officer and one of the three killed, reportedly responded to the president: "My son is not very optimal. He is also very dead. It was a disrespectful thing to say[.]"
That is how many families feel about the president's attitude toward those who have died serving their country. Billy and Karen Vaughn spoke with American Thinker about their deceased Navy SEAL Team Six son, Aaron, and their views on this administration's rules of engagement policies.
Aaron Vaughn was one of thirty U.S. service members, including 22 members of SEAL Team Six, killed when the helicopter they were traveling in was downed on August 5, 2011, in Afghanistan. This was the largest loss of life in the history of naval special warfare. At the time of his death, Aaron left behind a two-year-old son, a two-month-old daughter, his wife, and his parents. He became a SEAL in 2004 and joined SEAL Team Six in 2010. He was one of the few SEALs to get his name on the "First Time Every Time Wall," an honor for those SEALs who passed every test on their first try.
Aaron's mother wanted Americans to know that he had received numerous decorations, including the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star. She asked American Thinker if she could "tell you about my son, since I don't want people associating him with just a name. There was a purpose to his life. Even after becoming a SEAL, he maintained that calm, quiet spirit. He loved his family and his country, and he was humbled as well as honored to be able to serve his country. We didn't think he would ever achieve his goal of becoming a Navy SEAL when he drastically injured his knee. Yet because he was determined, he put himself on an exercise program right out of high school to develop the muscles around his knee."
Billy and Karen Vaughn wonder if their son had to die on that August night. They are furious with the Obama administration over the rules of engagement. Although there is nothing that can bring their son back, they are speaking out now to make sure their voice is heard. Karen told American Thinker, "Someone needs to speak out, since those soldiers are the ones being damaged the most, and they have no voice in these rules. Soldiers and their families cannot speak out, or they will face consequences. Since our son died, we feel it is our duty. Every parent that we are engaged with feels the same way.
"We have not gotten any blowback whatsoever. In fact, we get e-mails every day thanking us, and telling us their child who is in Afghanistan supports us. What we are hoping to do is to scream out loud enough so that American citizens will learn and then get on board. The policies of this administration are getting our soldiers killed."
American Thinker asked Billy and Karen to describe the events leading up to the night Aaron died. They point out that then-Secretary of Defense Gates kept telling this administration that there should be no operational details made public about the Osama bin Laden raid. Yet, from the president on down, this administration took a victory lap. Karen was furious as she watched all the information coming out, and she thought, "Oh my G-d -- he is going to get them killed. The president endangered the lives of our warriors by promoting himself. Then Aaron called and told us that intelligence was receiving chatter that we were all being targeted: the SEALs, their parents, wives, and children.
"After getting off the phone, my heart went into my mouth. Because of the decisions of this administration, families have to start watching their backs; that is our reality. After hearing of my son's death, I thought that this administration had put a target on my son's back about ninety days after Osama bin Laden was killed.""
Billy felt that this administration has tied the American warriors' hands behind their backs. He was in Afghanistan while Bush was president, but on his second tour of duty, in 2010, he became angry because of what had changed. Billy said that Aaron always said, "Our enemies understand force. They hate us, but they also fear us. They only respect power."
Why was Billy so angry? Before 2011, when SEALs took Afghan commandos on raids, the Aghans were not told of any mission details until they arrived at the destination. The reasoning behind this is obvious: they were afraid that the enemy would be waiting to ambush them. But starting in 2011, the Afghan national army, police, and security ministry were required to be involved in the planning, intelligence, and pre-op. Furthermore, Billy wants Americans to know that the official report stated that the Afghans had the flight route of the SEAL helicopters that night, and he believes that this contributed to the ambush. "They knew that the Taliban's new strategy was to infiltrate to get information where they would be able to wreak havoc on American forces."
Billy is disgusted at the rules of engagement, which prevented immediate retaliation. There were other helicopters that were prevented from firing on the position where the RPGs came from, because the Taliban was standing on top of a building. Billy's reaction: "The American helicopters were not allowed to take out the Taliban even though they just killed thirty Americans. We have it in writing that the remaining helicopter pilots knew exactly where the shots came from. This is the height of insanity."
Billy and Karen have agreed to be a part of Veterans For A Strong America's ad -- not for political reasons, but to change this ridiculous strategy. Karen believes that "[t]his is not about politics; it's about human beings who are being sacrificed on an altar of narcissism and idiotic ideology. Since this president has no intention of changing this ideology, he must go. We need someone who has a concern for our warriors, and I am absolutely convinced that President Obama does not have the best interests of the American soldier. This president is very dangerous. He is getting our soldiers killed while he is sitting in his Oval Office, riding around on Air Force One, or playing golf endlessly. If you want to call it political, go ahead."
Billy and Karen want Americans to know that Aaron wanted to make a difference in this world. They are hoping for a change in leadership from the commander-in-chief to the generals in charge. If Governor Romney wins the presidency, they want to meet with him to voice their concerns on how to protect American troops, since it is obvious that the current president "is not doing what it takes to protect our soldiers, our allies, and our security interests around the world with this ridiculous strategy."