By John Stryker Meyer
With such a large Marine Corps presence in North County, both at Camp Pendleton and Miramar Air Station, there’s almost daily media coverage of the horrific price paid by Marines and Navy corpsmen fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, including those killed in action and wounded in action since Sept. 11, 2001.
The movie “Act of Valor” (featuring active-duty Navy SEALs) recently shed light on another aspect of the grueling toll that Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom have taken on the clandestine world of America special operations service members: SEALs, Army Green Berets, Marine MARSOC and Air Force Pararescue personnel.
In the world of special operations, the norm for a successful operation is no public adulation or recognition: The spec ops men settle for the satisfaction of a job well done.
A year ago, Navy SEALs found themselves in the uncomfortable glare of public celebration upon the bold and successful raid into Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden and dumped his remains at sea to take away the specter of martyrdom for America’s dreaded enemy.
However, there is a price that Americans pay for successful spec ops missions, a price that isn’t advertised or highly publicized.
For example, at the end of “Act of Valor,” there is a moving, silent tribute to the 57 Navy SEALs killed in action since 9/11: Instead of naming the SEALs who starred in the movie, the scroll named the SEALs killed in action. It was one more class act by a unique group of warriors.
On April 5, in North Carolina, another tribute was held during a formal banquet at the end of Special Forces Regimental Day —- an event celebrating the formation of the Green Beret regiment 25 years ago.
During the banquet, Lt. Gen. John F. Mulholland Jr., the commanding general of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, called for a moment of silence to honor the more than 270 Green Berets who have been killed in action since 9/11.
Needless to say, the combined number of Green Berets and SEALs killed since 9/11 is a reflection on how deadly this war has been for the elite warriors.
Many citizens today don’t realize that within Special Forces, the basic operational unit is an A Team, consisting of 12 Green Berets. These men train in their individual military jobs and learn a foreign language before completing their training as a team and receiving their distinctive head gear. In some cases, because of the extensive level of training and cross-training, some of those men will work for two years before they are assigned to an A Team.
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