Showing posts with label Heroes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Heroes. Show all posts

September 14, 2018

Carmen YulÍn Cruz Small in Size But A Giant as San Juan Mayor in PR and Savior of Lives




 Meet Carmen Yulin Ortiz "El Pitirre" de San Juan  El Pitirre is a bird that never stops flying, singing, nest building
 (Twitter)

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz’s debut on the world stage was unforgettable. “We are dying here,” Cruz said in a Sep­t. 29, 2017, press con­fer­ence after Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico and a slow, inadequate response from the U.S. federal government compounded the disaster. “So I am done being po­lite.”
Cruz, now 55, was bold and defiant. But it was far from the first time. Five years before she found herself standing up to President Donald Trump, Cruz, whose remarkable journey to power is the subject of this week’s episode of Breaking Big, airing at 8:30 p.m. EST Friday on PBS, was challenging another giant — one of Puerto Rico’s most established political bosses — in order to win her current job. 
Puerto Rican society, including its political life, remains defined by a machismo culture that can make it daunting for women to pursue their dreams and ambitions. As Cruz tells OZY’s editor-in-chief Carlos Watson, “If a man raises his voice in the Congress, he’s being vocal. You are being hysterical.” 
RUNNING ON A PLATFORM OF INCLUSION AND CHANGE — AND BUILDING A COALITION OF STUDENTS, WOMEN AND LGBTQ VOTERS — THE UNDER-5-FOOT-TALL CRUZ BILLED HERSELF AS "LA PITIRRE,” A TINY BUT AGGRESSIVE BIRD.
And in San Juan, the embodiment of that machismo culture for years was its mayor, Jorge Santini, a bombastic political strongman with slicked-back hair who ruled over the island’s capital for 12 years and had a reputation for wasting public money on extravagant projects. Cruz, a graduate of universities like Boston University and Carnegie Mellon, returned to Puerto Rico in the early 1990s to start her own career in politics, working under Sila María Calderón, Santini’s predecessor as mayor of San Juan and the first woman to become governor of Puerto Rico. Cruz ran for office herself in 2008, winning a seat in the Puerto Rico House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.
Four years later, the candidate from Cruz’s Popular Democratic Party had to drop his challenge to Santini when he became embroiled in a controversy over domestic abuse. The party was scrambling to find a last-minute replacement — but nobody wanted to challenge the powerful Santini, already serving his third term in office. Well, almost nobody. “So I’m saying, ‘Pick me. Pick me. I want to do it,’” says Cruz. “Well, my party had meetings and meetings and was like, ‘Anybody but Yulín.’ And finally, there was nobody left.”  So Cruz got her shot. Nobody thought she had a chance against Santini. “I went to talk to her and said, ‘Listen, are you sure you want to do this? There’s no possibility that you’re going to win this election,’” says Charlie Hernandez, an attorney and the former majority leader of the island’s House of Representatives. “And she said, ‘I know I can win, and I will win.’” Cruz’s campaign director, Cesar Miranda, says she started with just two people on her campaign and zero money. But after watching Cruz in action, it was clear to Miranda and other political veterans that they had a candidate who would not require much polishing. “We said, ‘Let’s not touch this woman. She’s a wildflower. You don’t touch wildflowers.’”
Santini, known as “the Hawk,” mocked his opponent’s gender and experience on the trail, addressing her not by her name but as “esa señora” (“that woman”). Running on a platform of inclusion and change — and building a coalition of students, women and LGBTQ voters — the under-5-foot-tall Cruz billed herself as “La Pitirre,” a tiny but aggressive bird (the gray kingbird) that is the subject of a well-known saying on the island: A cada guaraguao le llega su pitirre (“Every hawk has its pitirre”). Wearing a red bandanna like a political revolutionary, Cruz took to the streets, launching a grassroots campaign dedicated to job creation, transparency, the needs of the poor and connecting with everyday Puerto Ricans. “She can convince. She can talk to people,” says Hernandez. “She is a political monster because she can find a way to do things, to convince the people.” 
And on Nov. 6, 2012, Cruz pulled off a David-beats-Goliath victory over the once-mighty Santini, beating him by around 6,000 votes. “The girl triumphed over the hawk” read San Juan’s El Nuevo Día the following day. “Our machismo culture in Puerto Rico resists a strong-willed, smart woman like [Cruz]; of course they do,” says Hernandez. “I’m still amazed at the way she did it.”
The day of her inauguration, Cruz ditched her red bandanna for an all-white outfit meant to send the message that with her at the helm, the residents of San Juan would be getting a clean slate. But, as San Juan realized when Hurricane Maria hit, a fresh start does not mean that Cruz fights any less hard than the men who have traditionally ruled the island. “I fight like a man,” says La Pitirre herself. “And I’m telling you this in the machismo context: I’ll give it to you as hard as you give it to me.”

August 27, 2018

McCain's Independent Spirit of Today Born as He Almost Died When Shot Down, Became POW During Vietnam





John McCain, a titan in the U.S. Senate, was a consistent conservative, though unafraid to buck Republican Party leadership on issues ranging from campaign finance reform to the GOP-led effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act.  
He died Saturday at age 81. 
While the Arizona senator and two-time presidential candidate will be remembered for his self-proclaimed "maverick" persona, it was his military bloodlines and 5 1/2 years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam that shaped much of McCain's legacy.
McCain was the son of an admiral and grew up on naval bases both in the United States and around the world. McCain's grandfather was also an admiral, making them the first father and son four-star admirals in history of the U.S. Navy.
McCain followed his father and grandfather into the family business. He was a member of the U.S. Naval Academy's Class of 1958. While at the academy, he developed a reputation as a rambunctious and insubordinate student who received more than his share of reprimands.
He also maintained another family tradition while there, earning mediocre grades in the classroom.
"My father was here and his father before him. Like me, their standing was closer to the bottom than the top of their class," McCain told a 2017 class of Naval Academy graduates.
McCain finished fifth from the bottom of his class.
Despite his poor classroom performance, he was able to become a naval aviator. By the mid-1960s, the Vietnam War was raging and McCain's squadron was drawn into battle. At one point in 1967, McCain was almost killed after a wayward rocket from a nearby bomber hit his aircraft's fuel tank just before he was to take off from the USS Forrestal.

Explosions and fires from that incident killed more than 130 people aboard, but McCain managed to escape unscathed.
On Oct. 26, 1967, while on a bombing run over the North Vietnamese capital, Hanoi, his aircraft was struck by a Vietnamese ground based anti-aircraft missile.
"Just as I released the bombs and started to pull back on the stick, a surface-to-air missile took the right wing off my airplane. My airplane violently gyrated. I ejected," McCain recounted to C-SPAN in 2003.


The impact from the ejection knocked Lt. Cmdr. McCain unconscious, and he landed in the lake below.
Both McCain's arms were broken, so was his shoulder, and his knee was shattered. He was pulled out of the water by a Vietnamese mob and was stabbed, beaten and taken to a prison commonly referred to as the "Hanoi Hilton."
Years later, as McCain reflected on this period, he said he held no ill will toward his captors.
"I don't blame them. We're in a war," McCain said in a separate interview with C-SPAN in 2017.
"I didn't like it, but at the same time when you are in a war and you are captured by the enemy, you can't expect to have tea," McCain said.
Because of the prominence of McCain's family, his captors saw in him potential for propaganda and offered him early release. But McCain repeatedly refused the offer because his fellow POWs would not be released as well.

He spoke about that shortly after his release in 1973.
"A number of times they were strong in their tactics trying to get me to possibly embarrass my father and our country," McCain said.
He spent most of his time in solitary confinement and endured incessant torture.
His ordeal as a POW, however, helped fuel his political career. As a senator, he could speak with authority on military matters. Perhaps the most striking example was when he challenged the George W. Bush administration and its "enhanced interrogation" of terrorism suspects. McCain decried the practice as torture.
McCain has visited the prison where he had been a POW. 
"I still despise those who inflicted pain unnecessarily on me and my fellow prisoners, but I hold no ill will toward the Vietnamese people, either North or South," he said.
The former prisoner then talked about his many friendships with many Vietnamese in the years since, adding that he always admired and respected the Vietnamese people.

July 13, 2018

A Boy with No Country Who Speaks 10 Languages is The Hero in this Story



 Adul-Sam-on, 14 coordinated rescue


A displaced teen who escaped conflicts in Myanmar nearly a decade ago emerged as a hero after he and his soccer team became trapped in a Thai cave, using his proficiency in multiple languages to assist in coordinating the rescue mission with divers and officials.
Adul-Sam-on was only 6 years old when he fled his home country. His parents slipped him out of the self-governing Wa region — well-known for guerrilla warfare and drug trafficking — and into Thailand with the hopes that he would have a better life and receive an education there, the New York Times reported.
At 14, he does not have an official home and is not a citizen of any country. He’s considered “stateless,” but Adul is the top student in his class at the Ban Wiang Phan School in Mae Sai, where 20% of the students are similarly considered stateless.
His academic record and his soccer skills have also earned him free tuition and daily lunch. “Stateless children have a fighting spirit that makes them want to excel,” the school’s principal, Punnawit Thepsurin, told the Times.
That would never prove truer for Adul than when he and the Wild Boars soccer team became trapped in the Tham Luang cave in northern Thailand. The boys had explored caves before and eagerly made their way through the winding passageways on June 23 — but heavy rainfall flooded their path to the exit and left them stranded. The team spent ten days drinking the water that dripped from the cave walls until a pair of British divers found them taking shelter nearly three miles inside the underwater complex.
In video streamed worldwide shortly after the rescue, Adul can be seen wide-eyed and thin in the depths of the cave alongside his eleven teammates.
“I’m Adul, I’m in good health,” the 14-year-old said in Thai, offering a traditional “Wa” greeting — which signals politeness. In addition to speaking both Thai and Wa, Adul is also proficient in Burmese, Mandarin and English.
His diverse knowledge of languages allowed him not only to speak on behalf of his team but coordinate and communicate between rescuers and the terrified soccer players.
Adul questioned divers on how long they’d been trapped and told their rescuers that getting food was their top priority. “Eat, eat, eat” one his friends piped in, prompting the teen to let him know that he’d already addressed that.
His teacher, Kru Nice, said she was not surprised to learn Adul stepped up amid the harrowing situation, telling CBS News that he’d always been a leader.
An elite team of 19 divers were tasked with extracting the young athletes and the coach from the cave, emerging with the first four boys on Sunday, another four on Monday and the final four boys and their coach around 8 p.m. local time Tuesday. All in all, they’d spent 18 days fighting for life in the cavern.
“He’s a miracle boy,” Nice said. “I’m happy he’s safe.”
The Wild Boars soccer team on Thursday remained in the hospital in good spirits. Video from inside the medical facility has shown them waving and flashing peace signs while doctors and nurses check their vitals in the background.
The first batch of boys rescued Sunday have normal heart rates and no fevers, though two of them are recovering from lung infections, said Jedsada Chokdumrongsuck, secretary of the Public Health Ministry.
Two of the four boys rescued in the second wave have mild fevers. And three people rescued on Tuesday are suffering from middle ear infections and three still have fevers, though they are easing, the secretary said.
Chiang Rai province acting Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn praised all involved in the rescue efforts, especially the coordination between Thai and international volunteers.
“The situation when beyond being just a rescue mission and became a symbol of unity among mankind,” he said. “Everyone worked together without discrimination of race or religion as the ultimate goal was to save the youth football team.”
With News Wire Services

March 31, 2018

David Hogg (Parkland Survivor) Rejects Fox News and Ingrahams' Shallow Apology After Advertisers Began Dropping Her as Damaged Goods





Laura Ingraham's giving in to her inner feelings and salutes at the RNC

 A student survivor of a Florida high school shooting has brushed aside a Fox News host's apology after she mocked his university rejections.
Ten companies have said they are pulling ads from Laura Ingraham's programme after 17-year-old David Hogg tweeted a call for a boycott.
On Wednesday, she accused the activist of whining after he said four colleges had declined his applications.
He has been a target of online abuse since last month's attack in Parkland. 
Keeping up the pressure on Friday, David told the New York Daily News: "I would love to see her go."
He tweeted on Thursday night: "I will only accept your apology only if you denounce the way your network has treated my friends and me in this fight. 
"It's time to love thy neighbor, not mudsling at children." 
The teenage activist - who has amassed more than 600,000 Twitter followers since last month's attack - told CNN on Thursday: "She's only apologizing after a third of her advertisers pulled out.
"I think it's great that corporate America is standing with me and the rest of my friends."  
He also rejected her invitation to appear on her show and discuss his gun control campaign.
"I think it's really disgusting, the fact that she basically tried promoting her show after apologizing to me," he told CNN.
TripAdvisor, Expedia, Hulu, Johnson & Johnson, Office Depot, Jenny Craig, Wayfair, Stich Fix, Nestlé, and Nutrish have said they will withdraw commercials from The Ingraham Angle.
On Thursday night's show, Ms. Ingraham ignored the boycott.
Laura Ingraham and David Hogg (right)Republican campaign strategist Steve Schmidt praised the teenager.


Image copyright 

 A student survivor of a Florida high school shooting has brushed aside a Fox News host's apology after she mocked his university rejections.
Ten companies have said they are pulling ads from Laura Ingraham's programme after 17-year-old David Hogg tweeted a call for a boycott.
On Wednesday, she accused the activist of whining after he said four colleges had declined his applications.
He has been a target of online abuse since last month's attack in Parkland. 
Keeping up the pressure on Friday, David told the New York Daily News: "I would love to see her go."
He tweeted on Thursday night: "I will only accept your apology only if you denounce the way your network has treated my friends and me in this fight. 
"It's time to love thy neighbor, not mudsling at children." 
The teenage activist - who has amassed more than 600,000 Twitter followers since last month's attack - told CNN on Thursday: "She's only apologizing after a third of her advertisers pulled out.
"I think it's great that corporate America is standing with me and the rest of my friends."


Soooo @IngrahamAngle what are your biggest advertisers ... Asking for a friend.
He also rejected her invitation to appear on her show and discuss his gun control campaign.
"I think it's really disgusting, the fact that she basically tried promoting her show after apologizing to me," he told CNN.
TripAdvisor, Expedia, Hulu, Johnson & Johnson, Office Depot, Jenny Craig, Wayfair, Stich Fix, Nestlé, and Nutrish announced they would withdraw commercials from the presenter's show, The Ingraham Angle.
On her Thursday night show, Ms. Ingraham ignored the boycott.
Republican campaign strategist Steve Schmidt praised David Hogg as fearless. 
"This kid's not scared," he said. "He's not scared of the NRA. He's not intimidated and scared by Laura Ingraham."
The furor touched off on Wednesday when Ms. Ingraham posted on Twitter: "David Hogg Rejected By Four Colleges To Which He Applied and whines about it."
David had mentioned to celebrity gossip website TMZ a day earlier that he had been turned away from four colleges in the University of California system.
A day later - as advertisers joined a boycott - the Fox presenter struck a conciliatory tone by praising David's exam grades.
"On reflection, in the spirit of Holy Week, I apologize for any upset or hurt my tweet caused him or any of the brave victims of Parkland," she said.
But a TripAdvisor spokesperson said Ms. Ingraham's original comments "cross the line of decency". 
Wayfair said, "the decision of an adult to personally criticise a high school student who has lost his classmates in an unspeakable tragedy is not consistent with our values". 
"Maybe that's what happens after you've been down range of an AR-15 that kills your classmates and comes close to killing you," Mr. Schmidt told MSNBC, referring to the type of semi-automatic rifle used in the 14 February attack that claimed 17 lives. 
"You lose all fear. Because this kid's not scared. He's not scared of the NRA. He's not intimidated and scared by Laura Ingraham."
On Wednesday, Ms. Ingraham posted on Twitter: "David Hogg Rejected By Four Colleges To Which He Applied and whines about it."
David had mentioned to celebrity gossip website TMZ a day earlier that he had been turned away from four colleges in the University of California system.
On Thursday, the Fox presenter struck a conciliatory tone, praising David's grades.
"On reflection, in the spirit of Holy Week, I apologize for any upset or hurt my tweet caused him or any of the brave victims of Parkland," she said.
But a TripAdvisor spokesperson said Ms. Ingraham's original comments "cross the line of decency". 
Wayfair said, "the decision of an adult to personally criticise a high school student who has lost his classmates in an unspeakable tragedy is not consistent with our values".
Reported by the BBC
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February 27, 2017

Father of Dead Hero Refuses to See Trump Asks for Investigation



Miami Herald obtained this interviewed  with the father of William “Ryan” Owens
 
 A family photo of William ‘Ryan’ Owens, who was killed in Yemen on Jan. 28, 2017. Owens was the first known U.S. combat casualty under President Trump. Courtesy of the Owens family

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/article135064074.html#storylink=cpy
  

When they brought William “Ryan” Owens home, the Navy SEAL was carried from a C-17 military plane in a flag-draped casket, onto the tarmac at Dover Air Force Base, as President Donald Trump, his daughter, Ivanka, and Owens’ family paid their respects.

It was a private transfer, as the family had requested. No media and no bystanders, except for some military dignitaries.

Owens’ father, Bill, had learned only a short time before the ceremony that Trump was coming. Owens was sitting with his wife, Marie, and other family members in the solemn, living room-like space where the loved ones of the fallen assemble before they are taken to the flight line.

“I’m sorry, I don’t want to see him,’’ Owens recalled telling the chaplain who informed him that Trump was on his way from Washington. “I told them I don’t want to meet the President.”

It had been little more than 24 hours since six officers in dress uniform knocked on the door to Owens’ home in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. It was not yet daylight when he answered the door, already knowing in the pit of his stomach what they had come to tell him.
 
Now, Owens cringed at the thought of having to shake the hand of the president who approved the raid in Yemen that claimed his son’s life — an operation that he and others are now calling into question.

“I told them I didn’t want to make a scene about it, but my conscience wouldn’t let me talk to him,” Owens said Friday, speaking out for the first time in an interview with the Miami Herald.

Owens, also a military veteran, was troubled by Trump’s harsh treatment of a Gold Star family during his presidential campaign. Now Owens was a Gold Star parent, and he said he had deep reservations about the way the decision was made to launch what would be his son’s last mission.

Ryan and as many as 29 civilians were killed Jan. 28 in the anti-terrorism mission in Yemen. What was intended as a lightning raid to grab cellphones, laptops and other information about terrorists turned into a nearly hour-long firefight in which “everything went wrong,” according to U.S. military officials who spoke to the New York Times.

Bill Owens said he was assured that his son, who was shot, was killed early in the fight. It was the first military counter-terrorist operation approved by the new president, who signed the go-ahead Jan. 26 — six days into his term.

“Why at this time did there have to be this stupid mission when it wasn’t even barely a week into his administration? Why? For two years prior, there were no boots on the ground in Yemen — everything was missiles and drones — because there was not a target worth one American life. Now, all of a sudden we had to make this grand display?’’

In a statement from the White House Saturday, spokesman Michael C. Short called Ryan Owens “an American hero who made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of his country.”

The White House did not address his father’s criticisms, but pointed out that the Department of Defense routinely conducts a review of missions that result in loss of life.

Bill Owens and his wife sat in another room as the President paid his respects to other family members. He declined to say what family members were at the ceremony.

Trump administration officials have called the mission a success, saying they had seized important intelligence information. They have also criticized detractors of the raid, saying those who question its success dishonor Ryan Owens’ memory.

His father, however, believes just the opposite.

“Don’t hide behind my son’s death to prevent an investigation,” said the elder Owens, pointing to Trump’s sharp words directed at the mission’s critics, including Sen. John McCain.

“I want an investigation. … The government owes my son an investigation,” he said. 

Next week, Ryan Owens would have turned 37. At the time of his death, he had already spent half his life in the Navy, much of that with the elite SEAL Team 6 — chasing terrorist leaders across deserts and mountains around the world. The team, formally known as DEVGRU,had taken part in some of the most high-profile operations in military history, including the killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

At the time of the 2001 9/11 attacks, Owens was in SEAL training, arguably the most physically grueling and mentally grinding regimens in the military. The team, tasked with tracking terrorists and mythologized in books and movies, had once been dubbed a “global manhunting machine” by the Times.

Despite the lore surrounding the SEALS’ exploits, almost everything about them is kept secret, even their names. Bill Owens knows very little about the actions that his son participated in, but takes pride in the dozens of awards he earned during his 12 deployments. Among them: the Silver Star, Navy and Marine Corps Medal, a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart.

Ryan joined the Navy after high school, following in his brothers’ footsteps. His brother, John, 42, was also a SEAL, and his oldest brother, Michael, 44, a Hollywood police officer, was also in the Navy for a time.

They in turn were inspired by their father: Bill Owens served four years in the Navy, then joined the Army Reserves in Arlington Heights, Illinois. Ryan was born in downstate Peoria. While in the Reserves, Bill worked for Caterpillar tractor company, until he was laid off during the recession in the 1980s. Shortly thereafter, he saw a notice in a military magazine for new recruits for the Fort Lauderdale Police Department, and he successfully applied.

Owens and his then-wife, Ryan’s mother Patricia, moved with Ryan to South Florida. His elder sons remained with Owens’ first wife in Illinois.

Despite the distance between them, the half-brothers were very close, Owens said. They played sports and spent many summers and holidays together. Ryan and his brothers became interested in the military at a very young age. And Ryan dreamed of becoming a SEAL.

“He was always happy,” Bill Owens said of Ryan. “Every picture you see he has a smile on his face. He just had a real positive attitude.”

He was also driven. Ryan was so determined “to be the best” his father said, that when he failed the dive phase of SEAL training, he went out and hired a private instructor to get more training on his off time, and was initially certified as a civilian.

“He went out on his own and became more proficient. That’s the kind of dedication and determination that he had,” his father said.

Bill Owens’ marriage to Ryan’s mother ended soon after they moved to South Florida, and Patricia, who also became a Fort Lauderdale police officer, eventually moved with Ryan and her new husband back to Peoria. She died in 2013.

Ryan spent summers and holidays with his father and brothers in Fort Lauderdale and played catcher during the school year for the Illinois Valley Central High School baseball team, the Grey Ghosts.

  Ryan dreamed of serving in the military from a very early age, his father says. In this family photo, he is playing soldier with his older brothers. Courtesy of the Owens family
A SEAL’s heartache

Standing 6-4, and weighing about 225 pounds, Ryan loved the physical part of the job and serving his country, even though it took him away from his family much of the year.

“I always kept hoping that we would eventually make up for lost time, but that’s not going to happen,” his father said.

Ryan’s military career wasn’t always filled with the adrenaline of hostage rescue missions and midnight raids. In between, there were endless hours of training and planning.

There was also the heartache of losing his military brothers. Ryan was tasked in 2011 with escorting the bodies of 17 of his fellow SEALS home following a CH-47 helicopter crash in Afghanistan, his father said.

“He came back from Afghanistan and had to go to their funerals. It’s unnerving to go through something like that. It was one of the worst days in SEAL history as far as casualties go. He didn’t talk about it,” his father said. “A lot of them, they don’t talk about it, even with their parents.”

Doomed mission

Owens and his SEAL commandos set out in the dark of night. Planning for the Yemen raid began last year during the Obama administration, but the execution was tabled because it was decided it would be better to launch the operation on a moonless night, which wouldn’t occur until after President Trump took office Jan. 20.

According to a timeline provided by the White House, then-National Security Advisor Michael Flynn briefed the president about the operation Jan. 25 over a dinner that included Vice President Mike Pence, Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and top security aides. It was not held in the Situation Room, as had been a practice under previous administrations.

President Trump signed the memo authorizing the action the next day, Jan. 26.

  The younger Owens served under three presidents and met one of them: Barack Obama. This photo is from a visit to the White House. Courtesy of the Owens family
“This was a very, very well thought-out and executed effort,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Feb. 2 as questions first arose about the mission. He stressed that it had been thoroughly vetted and planned on Obama’s watch.

Colin Kahl, a national security adviser to former Vice President Joe Biden, however, tweeted his contention that Spicer was mistaken.

“Obama made no decisions on this before leaving office, believing it represented escalation of U.S. involvement in Yemen,” he wrote on Twitter.

At the time of the firefight, Trump was not in the Situation Room, where he would have been directly involved in monitoring developments. Spicer said he kept in touch with his national security staffers, who were directly plugged in. White House officials also pointed out that, in general, counter-terrorism operations are routine and presidents are not in the Situation Room for every mission.

U.S. forces, targeting a suspected al-Qaida compound, immediately faced armed militants, a sign that their cover had been blown. The Washington Post reported that militants, some of them women, fired from the rooftops. Three other commandos were injured when an MV-22 Osprey, sent in to evacuate the troops, crash-landed. It was later destroyed by a U.S. airstrike to prevent it from falling into militant hands.

Some reports have said as many as 23 civilians, including an 8-year-old girl, were killed.

Afterward, McCain characterized the mission as a failure, and Trump responded with a series of tweets defending the Yemen action, and criticizing McCain. The rancor further escalated when Spicer later stated that McCain — or anyone — who “undermines the success of that raid owes an apology and a disservice to life of Chief Owens.”

There is no SEAL mission that is without risk, said Don Mann, a 21-year veteran Navy SEAL, now retired. Mann, the author of “Inside SEAL Team Six: My Life and Missions with America’s Elite Warriors,” said that if the assault team knew ahead of time that it had been compromised, the SEAL commanders on the ground had the ability to abort the raid at any time.

Some reports said that they did know, and went forward anyway.

“The SEALS, unlike other forces, make their decision on the ground and that decision — in this case — cost a life, which is very very tragic, but that’s war,” Mann said.

“These people are good human beings. It weighs heavily on them. Seeing one person die, especially a teammate or friend, is beyond comprehension.”

He said it’s natural that Owens’ loved ones would have questions about what happened, but they shouldn’t be swayed by the politics surrounding the tragedy.

“Nobody knows the truth of what happened except the person on the ground. When politicians get it, they warp it far from the truth,” he said.

Powerful hands

There were so many SEALS at Ryan’s service at Arlington National Cemetery that his father’s arm got tired from shaking so many muscled hands. At the end, before his coffin was lowered, each of the SEALS removed their badges from their uniforms and pounded them one by one into the casket. When it over, the casket was covered in gold eagle tridents.

Bill Owens doesn’t want to talk about Ryan’s wife or his three young children. There are other things that he believes should remain private. He spoke out, he says, at the risk of offending some of his family and friends.

  William Owens said he had deep reservations about the way the decision was made to launch what would be his son’s last mission.Emily MichotMiami Herald Staff
“I’d like some answers about all the things that happened in the timeline that led up to it. I know what the timeline is, and it bothers me a lot,” said Owens, who acknowledges he didn’t vote for Donald Trump.

One aspect of the chain of events that nags at him is the fact that the president signed the order suspending the entry of immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries, including Yemen, on Jan. 27 — the day before the mission.

Owens wonders whether that affected friendly forces in Yemen who were assisting with the raid.

“It just doesn’t make any sense to do something to antagonize an ally when you’re going to conduct a mission in that country,” he said. “Did we alienate some of the people working with them, translators or support people. Maybe they decided to release information to jeopardize the mission.”

These are only some of the many questions that Owens believes should be thoroughly examined, including the possibility that the decision to move forward with the mission was motivated by politics.

“I think these are valid questions. I don’t want anybody to think I have an agenda, because I don’t. I just want the truth.”

[McClatchy reporters Vera Bergengruen and Anita Kumar contributed from Washington.]


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