Leave no man behind. The phrase rings through the minds of the armed forces, as one man stuck behind enemy lines seems to warrant the entire might and wrath of the United States military.
It almost seems like too a high a risk–to potentially lose multiple lives just to save one, and that’s assuming the rescue mission is successful in the first place. Still, the U.S. military has a rich history of rescuing their own at any cost. Maybe it’s because they know that every man and woman at their side would do it for them. Maybe it’s because while failure is a possibility, never even trying is not an option.
It’s 1993. Two helicopters have gone down in Mogadishu, Somalia. Many are dead and more are wounded, but U.S. military forces grind through. They battle it out through the night and into the next day–19 dead and 73 wounded. A helicopter pilot has been captured, but not before two Delta Force snipers give their lives to hold off the Somalis for as long as they could. Because of them, he lives.
It’s 1995. CPT Scott O’Grady has just ejected from his plane over Bosnia after it was torn in half by a surface-to-air missile. For six days O’Grady is on the run, trying to get in contact with friendly forces. They would send 51 Marines after him, risking the same surface-to-air missiles that shot him down in the first place. After the rescue was successful, they would take both small arms and missile fire but were able to evade and make it safely home.
It’s 2002. Navy SEAL Neil Roberts has fallen into enemy territory on the mountain of Takur Ghar, Afghanistan. The DEVGRU SEALs he was with fly into imminent danger to get him back, fighting enemy machine gun positions in the deep snow. Rangers from the 1st Ranger Battalion fight their way up the mountain to link up and get them out, taking severe casualties from the moment the door of their helicopter opens. Seven total are killed recovering his body.
It’s 2003. PFC Jessica Lynch has been captured in Iraq near the Euphrates, an effort by the Iraqis that left 11 dead and five others captured. After an informant came forward, the US launches a sizable force of Special Operations to rescue her.
The United States military has time and time again sent a clear message to the world: they will get their own back, one way or another. Whatever it takes, they get home.