Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey responded to news that Ramadi, Iraq is on the verge of being controlled by the Islamic State by describing Ramadi as “not symbolic in any way,” according to Fox News. These words did not set will with Debbie Lee, the mother of Marc Lee, the first Navy SEAL casualty in Ramadi.
Recently, Americans have become more familiar with the name Marc Lee. Lee was a teammate of Chris Kyle, and his death was portrayed in the movie “American Sniper.”
Maya Elbaum, Lee’s widow, says the film depicted her late husband as “a reluctant warrior — one who seems casual in combat — who questions America’s mission in Iraq.” According to her, nothing could be further from the truth.
“In contrast to the movie, Marc was a fierce fighter who believed he was making a difference in Iraq. He believed in the war with his whole heart and had a strong sense that his service had a higher purpose — not only for America, the country he loved, but to protect innocent Iraqis who lived in constant fear of terrorists,” Elbaum wrote in the opinion section of Fox News about Lee.
“He carried a big, heavy machine gun on most of Charlie Platoon’s operations, wielding it with precision to protect his teammates. He was a “Team Guy” — as SEALs call those who would do anything for their SEAL brothers.”
Lee was posthumously awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart for stepping into the line of fire to protect his teammates behind him during one of the biggest battles for the city of Ramadi, only four months into his deployment. He was also awarded a Bronze Star with Combat “V” for valor for his other valorous actions.
In an open letter to General Dempsey, Debbie Lee wrote:
“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.
What about the troops who sacrificed their limbs and whose lives will never be the same. Our brave warriors who left a piece of themselves in Ramadi. What about the troops who struggle with PTS/TBI who watched their teammates breath their last or carried their wounded bodies to be medevac’d out of Ramadi.
I’ve traveled to Ramadi and visited Camp Marc Lee in 2007. I brought back soil from that city where Marc breathed his last. I interviewed Iraqi General Anwer in 2010 when I returned. I asked him ‘If you could say one thing to the American people what would you tell them? He paused and with deep emotion said ‘We will tell our children, our grandchildren, for generations to come we will tell them what Americans have done. There is American blood poured out on our soil.’ It seems the Iraqis understand the importance more than you do sir.
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 need to apologize to our troops who endured the extreme temperatures and battled the terrorists in some of the worst battlefields in Iraq, Ramadi matters to them. They carry vivid memories of the battles and the teammates whose future is gone, 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!
Awaiting an Apology