"Acr of Valor" and the recent murders in Afghanistan

Strange how life goes- I write a review of “Act of Valor”( the new film starring real life US Navy SEALs which opened about a month ago in the US) in which I reprimand those who tend to regard the military (esp US) “as a collection of knuckle dragging borderline psychopaths with a taste for blood” for the Catholic Community Forum-which gets me thrown off it permanently- and lo and behold, over the weekend, something happens in Afghanistan which more or less justifies the stereotype( a holder from the Vietnam War)-to wit a US Army sergeant( attached to the special forces apparently) runs amok and slaughters 16 men, women and even children.

Being British I am no stranger to the hero worship assocaited with special forces(“Who Dares Wins”, “The Delta Force” “Navy SEALs”) but these at least featured actors pretending to be SAS(Special Air Service), Delta Force or SEALs and NOT the “real deal”. Possibly the stupidest and sickest comment about “Act of Valor” came from comedian Dax Shepard who compared “Act of Valor " to Nazi propaganda film “Triumph of The Will”.It put me in mind of Kipling’s celebrated poetic rebuke to"those who mock the very uniforms that guard you whilst you sleep”. If Mr Shepard does not like “Act of Valor” then that is his prerogative in a free society, but it ill befits one who lives safe and easy due to the literally unsung heroics of those who willingly put themselves not just in harm’s way but go through untold rigours( in “Hell Week” at SEAL training facility in Coronade, 90 % of prospective SEALs drop out such is the physical and psychological pressures of the training) so that their fellow US citizens-and possibly the rest of the Western world- can sleep easy at nights!

I have not seen the movie but don’t see a connection.

The Navy Seals are put through extensive programs and training and if they are going to “crack” , they probably would not make it out to become a seal.

Sadly the man who killed sixteen people was a regular recruit who had done 4 combat tours, repeat 4 tours, was put under too much pressure and lost it. His supervisors should have maybe recommended he see a chaplain or get sent home and didn’t. For this, he will lose his wife and children and face jail time. To me, he just “cracked” after seeing his friend blown up. It happens.

true, strictly speaking the alleged “perp” was a US Army staff sergeant(now identified as one Richard Bales) and NOT a SEAL, but it is also true that “mud sticks” as we saw with Lt William Calley Charles Graner(of My Lai and Abu Ghraib notoriety). What i for one find troubling is the by now routine bromide trotted out whenever the military( whether UK or US) is caught with its khaki trousers at half mast_ “not at all representative of the Corps/Regiment/ Army” " a lamentable lapse of discipline" et al.

Terry

PS “Act of Valor” is due to open this coming Friday in the UK!(I’ll wait until it comes out on DVD-ordinarily any film praised by the likes of Rush Limbaugh I would give a wide berth to but even a broken clock can be right twice a day!

true, strictly speaking the alleged “perp” was a US Army staff sergeant(now identified as one Richard Bales) and NOT a SEAL, but it is also true that “mud sticks” as we saw with Lt William Calley Charles Graner(of My Lai and Abu Ghraib notoriety). What i for one find troubling is the by now routine bromide trotted out whenever the military( whether UK or US) is caught with its khaki trousers at half mast_ “not at all representative of the Corps/Regiment/ Army” " a lamentable lapse of discipline" et al.

This is a war and the Army sergeant Richard Bales had served 4 tours of combat, had had a brain injury and just seen his friend get hit … I don’t think it was a lapse of discipline but a situation that shouldn’t been allowed by his commanding officer yet in war situation, this kind of thing happens. As you mentioned it happened in Vietnam at My Lai.

It is a sad situation for him and his family. Our military are there so that we can be here and enjoy our freedom. I am proud that he served 4 combat tours yet feel he shouldn’t had to do that, that it was too much to ask. . Just a very sad situation.

My Lai was on a much larger scale it should be noted, though I’m loathe to play the numbers game with atrocities. Also US personnel interfered in the killings at My Lai and tried to halt the massacre, particularly by (then warrant officer) Hugh Thompson and his crew.Thompson rightly interfered and reportedly threatened at one stage to turn the machine guns mounted on the helicopter he was politing on his own side if they did not desist from the massacre. Yes Thompson didn’t save everyone and yet he showed that soldiers vary as widely as any other group in their reactions and he reflects more the attitudes of soldiers I have known. That said the points made that Richard Bales is not likely to be a ‘pyscho’ etc. etc. but rather a man who broke under pressue we are not soldiers could not easily conceive of need to be taken on board.

On another note I do not see the US or coalition military generally as contributing anything to us enjoying freedom. They are mostly decent people and I woud not dissrespect them at a personal leve but I saw and still see the Afghan war as a mistaken and pointless gesture.

originally posted by JharekCarnelian
My Lai was on a much larger scale it should be noted, though I’m loathe to play the numbers game with atrocities. Also US personnel interfered in the killings at My Lai and tried to halt the massacre, particularly by (then warrant officer) Hugh Thompson and his crew.Thompson rightly interfered and reportedly threatened at one stage to turn the machine guns mounted on the helicopter he was politing on his own side if they did not desist from the massacre. Yes Thompson didn’t save everyone and yet he showed that soldiers vary as widely as any other group in their reactions and he reflects more the attitudes of soldiers I have known

My Lai was much bigger. It was Calley and his whole squad and I believe approximately 300 people were killed but only Calley got jail time.Granted Thompson realized it was wrong and might have been the one who turned him in. In Vietnam, soldiers would throw grenades into commanding officer tents if they didn’t like him. All kinds of things went on.

I agree with you that this seems to be an isolated incident where Richard Bale “cracked”. According to some reports I have heard that he wasn’t even suppose to go back a fourth time. The army had told him he would not be placed in a war situation and then changed that. Still they are talking about the death sentence? Tragic ending.

On another note I do not see the US or coalition military generally as contributing anything to us enjoying freedom. They are mostly decent people and I woud not dissrespect them at a personal leve but I saw and still see the Afghan war as a mistaken and pointless gesture.

Don’t want to get into a lengthy discussion about the war as I am sure there are many other forums on this but I am very proud of the men and women who have served. All I can say to them is - Thank you, Thank you.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.