Like the events surrounding Benghazi, Vallely said he believes the crash of the helicopter, which was carrying many men who only 93 days before had aided in the killing of Osama Bin Laden, has “a constant plethora of lies and deceit.”
Military experts and the families of the soldiers killed in the August 6, 2011, helicopter crash in Afghanistan — the single largest loss of soldiers’ lives in the Afghanistan campaign — think it is fitting that they are sharing details regarding the unusual events and unanswered questions surrounding their son’s deaths now at a time when similar themes are being discussed at the Benghazi hearings.
Retired Major General Paul Vallely called the attack on the helicopter with the callsign Extortion 17, leading to the death of 25 American special operations personnel, including many from SEAL Team Six, five from the National Guard and Army Reserve crewmen, and eight Afghanis, a “lost story.”
U.S. Navy sailors in the honor guard fold a flag before the presentation ceremony for U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Joseph Strange, a cryptology technician, in Logan Circle Thursday, Aug. 18, 2011, in Philadelphia. Strange was assigned to the Navy SEAL team whose Chinook helicopter was shot down Aug. 6 by a rocket-propelled grenade in what has become the deadliest single loss for U.S. forces in the decade-long war in Afghanistan. Families have recently been calling for a congressional investigation into the attack. (Photo: AP/Alex Brandon)
“I think it is timely that we are here at a time when Benghazi is going on,” Vallely said at a press conference where the family divulged details regarding their sons’ deaths. Like the events surrounding Benghazi, Vallely said he believes the crash of the helicopter, which was carrying many men who only 93 days before had aided in the killing of Osama Bin Laden, has “a constant plethora of lies and deceit.”
As the numbness over the news of their sons’ deaths began to lift, questions took its place. Charles Strange, the father of Navy SEAL Michael Strange, said he was embraced by President Barack Obama when he was receiving the body of his 25-year-old son back in the U.S. He asked the president if there would be an investigation, to which Obama said yes. In Strange’s assessment, and that of other parents present at the presser hosted by attorney Larry Klayman who is representing some of the families through Freedom Watch, such an investigation has not delved into the questions that need to be answered.
The accusations and questions
Their first point of contention is a comment made by Vice President Joe Biden that they believe “put a target” on their sons’ backs. After the death of bin Laden, instead of remaining general and using terms like “special forces team” to describe the soldiers who took him out, Biden identified the team as part of the Navy SEALS.
Biden mentions the SEALs in this video at an event just a couple days after the announcement of bin Laden’s death:
The parents of Aaron Vaughn, Billy and Karen, who spoke at the presser Thursday began voicing of their discontent regarding the SEALs being identified last year:
Former Navy SEAL Brandon Webb, who runs SOFREP.com (the Special Operations Forces Report, told TheBlaze in an email, though, that he thinks it would have been “virtually impossible” not to disclose the team responsible for killing bin Laden in today’s “age of social media.”
“If you remember there was a Pakatani tweeting about helicopters as the raid was happening,” he wrote.
But the families detailed other information surrounding the tragedy that they find objectionable. They question the type of helicopter being flown; why so many elite members of the military were in one helicopter at a given time; why command switched out members of the Afghani forces at the last minute; and why other procedures they considered protocol did not seem to have been followed.
“A Chinook from 1989? Unacceptable,” Strange said of the Boeing CH-47 Chinook the men were flying in that day. “93 days after killing bin Laden you put 22 [members of] SEAL Team 6 into a Chinook?”
Mist from the Swann Memorial Fountain wafts past as Rear Admiral William E. Leigher, stands after presenting a flag to Charles Strange Jr., the father of the deceased, during a flag presentation ceremony for U.S.Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Joseph Strange, a cryptology technician, in Logan Circle Thursday, Aug. 18, 2011, in Philadelphia. Strange was assigned to the Navy SEAL team whose Chinook helicopter was shot down Aug. 6 by a rocket-propelled grenade in what has become the deadliest single loss for U.S. forces in the decade-long war in Afghanistan. (Photo: AP/Alex Brandon)
“That helicopter is meant to transport troops and people …[it’s] not made to conduct special operations,” retired admiral James Lyon said.
Billy Vaughn said he believes if his son were flying in more modern aircraft suited for special operations the outcome might have been different. But even if the outcome wasn’t changed, it would at least “be a whole lot easier to live with,” he said.
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