He is rugged and handsome and hyper-masculine. He is the stuff of calendars and fantasies. He is the type of man that inspires young boys to become soldiers and Navy SEALs. He is the type of man women want to father their children. Men aspire to be like him. He is American; he is the American ideal of what a man should be; a GI Joe, American Hero. He is Edward Gallagher. He is Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher of the U.S. Navy. And he is charged with murder.
Gallagher served in the elite of the elite, a battle hardened Navy Seal whose squad looked forward to being led by such a man. To them Gallagher could do no wrong. Before his deployment in 2017 to Iraq he had a custom-made knife and hatchet made by a former SEAL named Andrew Arrabito. They had served together. Hatchets have become the unofficial SEAL symbol. Gallagher texted Arrabito, “I’ll try and dig that knife or hatchet on someone’s skull!”
Even before his deployment in Iraq in 2017 Gallagher, who goes by “Blade” had a reputation of being a “pirate”. That is an operator more interested in fighting terrorists than in adhering to the rules and making rank. (NYT 4/23/19)
I can understand how many Americans would swoon over such toughness, cowboy fortitude, and masculinity; this is a can-do, get it done man with a mission. To Hell with the bureaucrats and administrators and the law. His mission was to kill the enemy!
No. His mission was to serve in the U.S. military and uphold the Constitution of the United States. He was to serve with honor. He was to protect his platoon.
Several of the men under his command reported him for murder. Among the charges are that he shot at and killed civilians, including a young girl and an old man, and that he murdered a wounded ISIS fighter who was captured and under care. He stabbed the wounded fighter in the neck and bled him out in front of both Iraqi and U.S. servicemen and mentioned that it was in response for having lost two of his own men. Allegedly, he wanted his men to disregard what had happened and even recommit to their oath over the dead body.
Here’s where honor comes in. These men, witnesses to Gallagher’s lawlessness, reported him to their superiors. Their superiors dismissed their claims. It happened again, and the claims were again dismissed. It wasn’t until they threatened to go to the media that something was done and Gallagher was investigated and arrested. To me it is honorable for men to forsake their careers and professional future, to put their own life in danger, and risk harassment in and out of military service for their entire life for the sake of justice. To me that is Honor. To me that is service to the country. These men are the true heroes.
As is always the case in a polarized United States, the cable media and the conservative factions of the country jumped on this as an injustice, a witch hunt on our brave soldiers who put their lives on the line in dangerous places fighting “bad guys”. They began to smear the subordinates who reported Gallagher. They threatened them. Even the president got involved as he always somehow manages to do when the issue is sensational.
From the usual places the usual cast of characters rallied around Gallagher and fought against those who risked their careers to keep him from being a loose cannon.
And all the while I read about this case I thought: How truly, truly frightening to have an elite soldier making his own rules and administering his type of justice.
It wasn’t but a few years earlier that a captured Jordanian pilot by the name of Muath Safi Yousef al-Kasasbeh was burned alive in a cage for all to see by ISIL, and the Americans were nauseous by the disgusting act. I ask myself, what is the difference? And what will a man like Gallagher do out of uniform when he returns if he is not brought to justice now?