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Guest view: Military service — and heroism — is not about self-glorification

Guest view: Military service — and heroism — is not about self-glorification

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I’m a two-tour Viet Nam Veteran with a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star with a Combat V. I’m a life Member of the Marine Corps League, the VFW, the American Legion and the DAV. I’m a Veterans’ advocate in any way I can be and have driven the DAV van out of Butte for 15 years.

I saw a lot of combat in Vietnam, was wounded, saw many of my brothers wounded or killed. I was with Hotel Company, 2nd Bn 3rd Marines in Operation Pegasus that lifted the siege of Khe Sanh in 1968. After this siege was broken, we were sent to retrieve the bodies of a platoon of Marines who had lain out in the hot sun and were in a terrible state of decomposition.

I could relate many more combat experiences that my brothers in combat and I experienced. We were all kids and had each other’s backs. Most of all we kept things of high security, among ourselves. We knew some things stayed with us, as to reveal them gave the enemy a way to turn those military training/methods/etc. against our soldiers or Marines, the result being them losing their lives or being wounded. It was a Code of Honor in having this Code of Silence we lived and died by.

The question of why I have revealed this has to do with a political ad for Sen. Daines being broadcast, in which Rob O’Neill is talking/bragging about his killing Osama Bin Laden.

From a veteran’s perspective, Rob O’Neill broke that Code of Silence and gave the enemy the step by step methods the Navy SEALs use in their secret combat operations. Many of us were angry and shocked when he gave this information out, when being interviewed. He betrayed the Navy, his fellow SEAL brothers and the whole world was informed.

Self-glorification and self-promotion seems to be what’s he’s all about.

Every one of the SEALs on that mission were equally part of that success, yet he wants the attention and glory of it. The SEAL Code of Silence meant nothing to him.

Those of us who have experienced having to kill our enemies don’t talk about it or feel good about it. We know it was a kill-or-be-killed experience. This has been the case all through history’s wars. His bragging about the last thing Osama saw before he died was the American Flag, is self-glorification that angers many of us.

You don’t brag about killing anyone, no matter who they are. Osama being killed was a relief for many of us but the point is that the Navy SEAL Team, which Rob O’Neill was part of, took Osama out. Every member of that SEAL team has an equal share in the accomplishment of that mission. Rob O’Neill being part of that team did his job as a SEAL, and that is to be respected as we respect every SEAL member who was with him. His self-glorification after the fact is what is dishonorable to those who served with him and to all Veterans who understand what the Military Code of Honor is.

With that said, I would hope Sen. Daines would reconsider having this ad being shown from a man who was a member of this heroic SEAL Team who has thrust himself away from them and wants all the glory. That’s not being a hero but is being self-serving for his own gain. Making this to be part of politics is the ultimate disgrace for every Veteran who has ever served.

Hopefully integrity, respect and Honor will prevail.

Mike Lawson is a decorated Marine Vietnam veteran, and a veterans' advocate in Butte.

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