Above: Arlington National Cemetary. "Home" of over 400,000 individuals who proudly served their country.
From a Nov. 13, 2010, speech by then-Lt. Gen. John Kelly to the Semper Fi Society of St. Louis, describing a 2008 suicide bombing in Iraq that killed two Marines, Cpl. Jonathan Yale, 22, and Lance Cpl. Jordan Haerter, 20. Gen. Kelly’s son, Second Lt. Robert Kelly, 29, was killed in action in Afghanistan Nov. 9, 2010:
What we didn’t know at the time, and only learned a couple of days later after I wrote a summary and submitted both Yale and Haerter for posthumous Navy Crosses, was that one of our security cameras, damaged initially in the blast, recorded some of the suicide attack. It happened exactly as the Iraqis had described it. It took exactly six seconds from when the truck entered the alley until it detonated.
You can watch the last six seconds of their young lives. Putting myself in their heads I supposed it took about a second for the two Marines to separately come to the same conclusion about what was going on once the truck came into their view at the far end of the alley. Exactly no time to talk it over, or call the sergeant to ask what they should do. Only enough time to take half an instant and think about what the sergeant told them to do only a few minutes before: “let no unauthorized personnel or vehicles pass.” The two Marines had about five seconds left to live.
It took maybe another two seconds for them to present their weapons, take aim, and open up. By this time the truck was halfway through the barriers and gaining speed the whole time. Here, the recording shows a number of Iraqi police, some of whom had fired their AKs, now scattering like the normal and rational men they were—some running right past the Marines. They had three seconds left to live.
For about two seconds more, the recording shows the Marines’ weapons firing nonstop, the truck’s windshield exploding into shards of glass as their rounds take it apart and tore in to the body of the son-of-a-bitch who is trying to get past them to kill their brothers—American and Iraqi—bedded down in the barracks totally unaware of the fact that their lives at that moment depended entirely on two Marines standing their ground. If they had been aware, they would have known they were safe, because two Marines stood between them and a crazed suicide bomber. The recording shows the truck careening to a stop immediately in front of the two Marines. In all of the instantaneous violence Yale and Haerter never hesitated. By all reports and by the recording, they never stepped back. They never even started to step aside. They never even shifted their weight. With their feet spread shoulder width apart, they leaned into the danger, firing as fast as they could work their weapons. They had only one second left to live.
The truck explodes. The camera goes blank. Two young men go to their God. Six seconds. Not enough time to think about their families, their country, their flag, or about their lives or their deaths, but more than enough time for two very brave young men to do their duty—into eternity. That is the kind of people who are on watch all over the world tonight—for you.
Guest commentary by Ed Perkins:
After attending the Sheboygan NOAA SEAS Facts Forum meeting on Sept. 21st, and after reading Kristyn Halbig Ziehm's report this last Wednesday, I want to share some further information on this meeting and the proposed Sheboygan Sanctuary.
First, I have yet to read any news coverage that stated that when the question was asked, "Do you oppose this sanctuary?" that 95% of the 75 or more attendees raised their hands in opposition to this sanctuary. About the only people who supported it were the NOAA staff, the Sheboygan mayor, and Steve Kroll, who said he was a volunteer from Alpena, MI, and a supporter wanting to see more marine sanctuaries. Mr. Kroll, as a supporter of the Alpena Sanctuary, when informed that Alpena voters voted against the Alpena Sanctuary didn’t even know this. He turned to Russ Green the NOAA Alpena Ass’t Director asking, “Is this true?” and Green said “Yes.” This fact along with others showed that Kroll lacked basic and important info concerning the Alpena, MI, Sanctuary, yet is a local volunteer supporter of it. Mr. Kroll is a diver and maybe that explains why he supports the sanctuary while others with other concerns do not. I would like to know whether Mr. Kroll was paid to appear on the panel.
Second, the issue of land owner and business rights and how NOAA has dealt with them in the past has received very little attention in the various forums, even though this is a big concern to many. At the Alpena, MI, sanctuary some of us have learned that current land owners with shore land have been prevented from even cutting their brush or cutting down any trees on THEIR property. Also, the NOAA has shown and stated they are not bound by local referendum when it comes to whether NOAA will proceed with a sanctuary. This was proven in Alpena, MI, when the residents there called for a public referendum vote. The results were 1770 opposed the marine sanctuary and 770 were for it. NOAA then determined it was in the best interests of the residents and land owners of Alpena and built the sanctuary.
Third, one of the arguments being used by NOAA and its supporters over the years has been marine sanctuaries will bring a significant economic benefit to the community. That has been proven NOT true in Alpena, MI, and elsewhere. In a study paid for by the NOAA and done by the Univ. of MI on page 85 of that report one will read that after 17 years, "...no significant economic benefit resulted at the Thunder Bay Sanctuary in Alpena." Further what is not acknowledged is that the Alpena sanctuary COST Alpena's taxpayers over $300,000 in additional property taxes because NOAA needed a bridge reconstructed for its bigger boats. Further, the price of fuel at Alpena marinas has increased when it should have gone down like our auto gas has over the past years.
Fourth, I find it of interest how so many in the media like, Ziehm's article, never acknowledge any of the above facts, never bring them up and when they are, brush them aside. I believe that is because there are vested interests that will profit and benefit from the sanctuary. Those include tourist and other related interests, government leaders who believe there will be economic benefit even though there is clear evidence to the contrary; and bureaucrats whose agencies will receive more federal and state funding. Remember, tourist jobs are mostly seasonal and part-time, not good paying jobs. These are the primary supporters of the Sheboygan NOAA Marine Sanctuary - not the local residents, businesses and taxpayers.
Finally, it is important to point out NOAA, along with the WI Historical Society have been promoting the WI Lake MI Sanctuary for almost 10 years. I and other Wisconsin voters and taxpayers first heard about this less than 6 months ago, long after our governor and several state elected reps signed on with their support. This is not how one reaches out in a positive way to gain support for a project impacting ALL of Wisconsin, and not the way to disseminate information to the public. NOAA has spent a large amount of money and staff time over the past 8 years to promote this and many other marine sanctuaries they wish to build. Like any bureaucracy they have "their" own interests. Question is whether those are "OUR" interests?