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tv   Washington Journal James Kitfield  CSPAN  November 13, 2021 10:24pm-11:26pm EST

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better plan. also on the calendar, a number of bills from the veterans affairs committee on issues like health care, education, and employment. the senate returns monday at 3:00 eastern. lawmakers are scheduled to continue debate on the nomination of graham steele to be assistant secretary of the treasury for financial institutions with a vote later in the day to advance the nominee. watch the house on c-span, the senate on c-span two, are online at and our congressional coverage is available on your phone with c-span now, our new video app. >> jane's kit field, why did you write this book? >> as you know, i have covered these boards as a correspondent going on 20 years for national journal. i covered it from a strategic perspective, talking to generals and senior leaders about what their plans were and where they
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were working. i was always incredibly impressed by the young men and women in uniform i contacted. at the tip of the sphere, i wanted some way to tell their stories. my coverage of these two wars, the longest in american history, and the navy department reached out to me for an exclusive interview with the most recent medal of honor recipient who was a navy seal, and in doing that interview, it was just -- i was struck by how profound his experience was. his story was really homeric. it is sweet. the decisions they had to make along the way, each step of the way, they. could have done the easy thing. . it could have been an honorable thing. they did the hard thing and lived up to their creed that you
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never leave a fellow warrior behind on the field of battle. i was so struck by that, i want to tell more stories like that and that was the impetus of the book. >> in the title, in the company appears heroes, where does it come from? >> when you hear the stories, you realize -- we kind of fling the word hero around pretty loosely, whether talking about athletes or celebrities, but when you hear the stories of these individuals, there is no question this is what heroism looks like. it came to me -- it is a company. these are individuals who are extraordinary. these stories are units of teammates. people banding together in the worst circumstances imaginable. these individuals are extraordinary, but they kind of stand in for all the servicemembers who fought over in afghanistan and iraq over the
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last 20 years. that phrase just came to me because it is a company of heroes. as one medal of honor recipient said to me, everyone who was in this fight deserves this metal. they are all heroes and when you read the stories, the truth comes out. >> i want to have our viewers join us in this conversation this morning. this is how we are going to divide the lines. afghanistan war veterans and family members --iraq and afghanistan war veterans and family members, dial in at (202) 748-8000. all others, (202) 748-8001. you mentioned this but you talked about the first story you begin with is the story of brint slavinski and john chapman. >> the navy department had
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offered an interview with britt type it is the first story in the book because i do the 25 medal of honor recipients chronologically. they were involved in a horrific battle part of operation anaconda. in 2002. shortly after 9/11, six months afterward, that was the first medal of honor given for the war in afghanistan. you know, it shows that story -- i had already written about john chapman, who received -- don't like the term when -- win --he received a high metal and i got the other side of the story and started thinking about. this is one of the rare cases where you had to medal of honor recipients. it launched me on this project. >> explain the battle. >> there is very briefly -- we
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have left osama -- let osama bin laden get away a few months earlier. they were determined to not let that happen. there was a lot of senior al qaeda people in this valley during the winter, they surrounded the valley. it was the first time we were battling bloodied in the war on terror. the seal team was to go to an overwatch position on the mountainside because of some screw ups with timing, they were originally going to be let down halfway down the mountain and egress up to the top stealthily like the navy seals do. they set them down on the top of the mountainside and flew right into an ambush. a big al qaeda force on top of the mountain. the helicopter is badly damaged and barely makes it out of the ambush, crash lands, and they realize one of the seals has
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fallen out the back of the helicopter. then, they have to make a , do we go and britts lubinski d back up into what is certainly a suicide mission and try to receive the fallen seal, neil roberts and britt slabinski said it felt to him to make the decision. he was a former eagle scout and he kept going back to the pledge to do my best and do my duty on my honor, and he decided they were going back up to try and get their fallen comrade even though they would be out numbered and knew that they would be fighting in snowdrifts and probably a suicide mission but every team member said that was what we were going to do and they said they would try to get neil roberts. john chapman said they were ambushed and john chapman is
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shot and presumed dead. another seal badly wounded in the leg and he would lose that leg. they have to retreat but they fought really fiercely if try and find neil roberts. as it turned out, john chapman was not dead. a predator drone video saw that he regained consciousness and fights on for another 20 minutes. and when a quick action force helicopter came to rescue him he tried to lay down cover fire and he is killed and the helicopter is hit and you lose some more special forces. it is a heartrending story, but the heroism and the determination of these warriors was just -- it is a heartbreaking story very inspirational what these people were willing to do to live up to the creed that we leave no one behind. host: when the autopsy was done on john chapman's body was found?
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guest: he was shot nine times, broken nose, bruised, he had 200 plus rounds of ammunition almost expended, shell casings all around his fighting position. so, he had fought really fiercely just an incredible warrior fighting on top of that mountain. host: i want to read from your book a letter that john chapman's father wrote to the squadron. john chapman's father gene later sent his son's squadron a letter. "we may look at what john did and say he is a hero, but then we are not one of his team or the other teams that go in where angels would not tread. the elder chap damn chapman wrote.
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john is proud to be part of you and he will tell you what he did his for his family, friends, and teams that he worked with. most of all he did what he did for his country." james kit fried? guest: that summarizes it beautifully, and again it gets back to my title "in the company of heroes." and britt slabinski said this to me, if you think about what my team did, what john chapman did, he did not even say i. what my team dead, and the pilots who had to crash land and then took us back up to the top of the mountain, the quick reaction force that came to our rescue not because they knew us but because we were in trouble. he said all of these people deserve the medal. the truth comes through. -- through when you read these stories. it was a team up there and these stories are not even individual stories, they are stories of teams that band together under the worst of circumstances you can imagine and they have each other's back and are willing to die for each other, and it is incredible thing to learn about.
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host: what happens before someone receives the medal of honor? guest: it starts with a recommendation from the immediate superior who witnessed the acts or are privy to them. and it goes up the chain of command. if it is deemed potentially worthy there is an investigation launched by a declarations board lasting 18 months to two years where they go back and look at all of the after action review material and talk to all the members who actually witnessed team members doing the acts of terrorism. if it is where the climbs up the chain of command and goes to th -- her rich. if it is where the climbs up the chain of command and goes to the service chief, the number one uniformed military person of that service, the chairman of the joint chiefs and the secretary of defense. if he thinks it is worthy, goes to the president's desk and the president decides if it is worthy of a medal of honor. host: how is this presented to them when they find out that
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they are receiving this honor? guest: they get a phone call which is interesting, they get a phone call from an operator saying the president of the united states is on the line, will you take his call. as one recipient said, does anyone say ever say no, and the answer is no. and the president alerts them -- basically calls up and says i want to let you know that i have agreed that you deserve the medal of honor, the nation's highest award for valor. so there's a personal note from the commander-in-chief that makes it even more special, and they receive the medal of honor in the white house itself. usually surrounded by all of their family and teammates who served with them. it is a very emotional and very beautiful ceremony. host: have you ever talked
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to a president about what it means to give that honor? guest: i have not talked to a president, although i have been to a couple of these awards. and, the president -- i remember the comment being made by a couple of presidents that this is the one part of my job that i like the best, because it is a chance to honor someone who is really extraordinary, who in many cases the president sent into harm's way, which is one of the hardest thing that the president has to do as commander in chief. so to be able to honor the sacrifice of these individuals and their team as well as the medal of honor recipient is something that the president really enjoys. there is always a big smile on their face when at the award ceremonies. host: what goes into receiving the medal? are there other aspects to it that we do not know about besides the ceremony that we see? guest: there are privileges that you get as a medal of honor recipient. there is a long list of them.
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you get some extra travel pay, your children get a stipend, some of these are giving posthumously, so another words the medal of honor recipient was killed during the engagement. and so, their family gets some money and some allowance for that. really it is the honor itself. these are very extraordinary and very rare. there are 25 recipients from 20 years of war, you can imagine how rare it is. it is the honor itself that they and their families will always walk very tall in the companies of heroes and the heroes of those who served in the wars who volunteered, many of them were extraordinary in th stories is, that many of these individuals volunteered after 9/11 without knowing for certainty that they are going
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into war and combat which is the worst thing you can experience. from this program, talking to these veterans you can understand that psychologically, emotionally and physically it is the most profound experience in most people's lives. so the volunteers who volunteered to do that after 9/11 to me are heroes. host: we heard from a viewer who was naming off medal of honor recipients that he knew, and after every name he was telling our viewers if you know that name stick your chest out today. guest: absolutely. these are extraordinary individuals, and they stand for a creed, serving country, of never giving up on the mission, of never backing down from the enemy, and as someone said in a review of my book, always being true to each other. these people stand for a value system that we can be very proud
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of as americans. host: let us get to some calls. darrell from michigan, go ahead. caller: good morning, america. i was in the u.s. air force for 40 years and my mission was missile systems analyst. while i was working on my consoles because where i was at, my counterpart in the soviet union -- a few good men were defending -- and they were asked why you respect the military so much and gary moore responded by saying because when i sleep at night, i know that there are people, soldiers on the ramparts protecting me so i can sleep in peace. thank you very much, america. host: mr. kitfield. guest: that is a paraphrase of
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something that winston churchill said. is a paraphrase of something that winston churchill said. we sleep at night because there hard men out there guarding and protecting us. and that is very true and i think that sentiment holds true for the men and women in uniform who thought these long wars in afghanistan and iraq. after the heart wrenching scenes of our withdraw from afghanistan i was asked by a number of veterans was it all in vain? and my response was it was not. your service was not in vain. i was in washington in 9/11, and i expect the next years and came on this program many times and talked about my reporting. every counterterrorism expert said that it is inevitable that there will be more 9/11 type
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spectaculars we are that vulnerable and they are that determined to strike at us. it did not happen for a reason because the service members went over there and thought these groups on their home turf and kept them looking over their shoulders and on their heels so they could not attack us. so, that service was absolutely not in vain. we have been protected in the last 20 years from another 9/11 because they were willing to go over and fight them on their home turf. host: andrew in texas. good morning, question or comment? caller: i just had a comment, i am a veteran of world war ii, korea, and vietnam. i am a retired navy master diver. i drew -- i grew up in a family of an even dozen in the mountains of north carolina. eight of us grew up to adulthood
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and seven served in the military. not all at the same time. but, he and my younger brother did the korean war together on the battleship new jersey. and during the vietnam war i was a master diver and ran the diving school in the philippines. i taught marines to scuba dive. in fact one of my students ended up being the commandant of the marine barracks and bury root when it was bombed -- beirut when it was bombed in the early 80's. i think about all of the people that went on before me, but i am 95 now and still in good health. i would like to wish all of the veterans a very happy veterans day. and, thanks for taking my call. host: hang on the line. do you have any thoughts or
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questions for andrew? guest: and what a great story. you know, one of the things that came through in these narratives from my book is how many of these extraordinary warriors came from military families. they came to the military because their parents or an uncle was in the military as children they had heard the stories. and it spoke to something in them to be part of something bigger than them just like their parents, uncle, or grandfather in some cases. to hear that your family has such a rich tradition is really heartwarming. it is not surprising to me and i hear a lot of that from these amazing warriors. host: is that what inspired you to join the military, your family's history? caller: more or less, i had a brother in the army air corps and he was flying over the hump and over in asia. he flew 329 combat missions over the burma hub during world war
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ii. and i had another brother who crossed europe with patton and eisenhower. i got in during the latter part of the war and i was in the cv's. when i was in the korean war, my brother got on the battleship new jersey so i transferred into the navy. and my career was not all that extraordinary, just an old sailor, spent 25 years in the navy and if i was 18 i would go and do it again. host: 95 years old. you said -- he said it was not extraordinary, what do you say to that? guest: all of these individuals and and andrew's case spent his career in service to his
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country, that is extraordinary. i think all of these veterans deserve our gratitude, because that is extraordinary, to devote your career to the service of this country is pretty extraordinary in my book. host: dave, pennsylvania. i rock veteran, welcome to the conversation. -- iraq veteran, welcome to the conversation. caller: i want to say that it is all about the team. i have 21 years in the army in three different specialties including a year in iraq and it is all about the bond with your buddies and teammates, and total commitment. so -- host: do you have a defining moment from your service where it was about your team that you can share with us. caller: from the time i raised my hand. i was an enlisted guy. and the time in iraq as well.
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host: what inspired you to enlist? caller: my dad. he was a veteran from world war ii. host: thank you for your service. hearing him get emotional, and i rock veteran -- iraq fetterman -- veteran, it is emotional to listen to. guest: service in general, but service and roar -- in war is psychologically and emotionally the most profound experience that these individuals will probably ever have. i see that myself, i experienced it a bit myself. so, it is emotional and he talked about his team, and again that is what comes through in the company of heroes is the power of these individuals, the bonds that they have with each other, forged from deprivations
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and dangers are something that they never will forget. it will be front and center and part of their makeup for the rest of their lives. host: i want to read the dedication. "dedicated to the uniformed volunteers who answered the call and fought the nation's longest wars after the 2011 911 terraced attacks. the new greatest generation." where does that come from? guest: it came from the leaders who witnessed this all volunteer force over the last 20 years, david, who many commented that to me for us privilege to leave these people they are the new greatest generation because they are all volunteers. this is the one thing that sets this generation of service members apart is that this is the first extended war where we did not have a draft, and i can tell you from experience, because i will just wrote about
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the creation of the all volunteer force in the -- in greatly -- length, the architects never imagined that the country would send them off, it is a small force, but you would send them off to fight wars on battlefields for 20 years without reinstating the draft. so, the burden of these two longest wars fell disproportionately on a very small volunteer force, which made that they had to go back and combat deployment after combat deployment. for all of the stresses that puts families. in the knowledge that each time you go back to a combat theater the idea that you will have posttraumatic stress issues rises. at one point there was an epidemic of divorce and suicide. it has been well documented and i have written about it. it was incredible the burden
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that we were putting on these volunteers. --. they bore the burden and they thought -- and i thought to never backed down from the enemy and never give up on the mission, and to stay true from each other -- to each other and that qualifies them as the new greatest generation. host: valerie, in new york. caller: good morning. hello. i have a question or a comment, and the question is lieutenant michael murphy in your book? he is from my county, the legion which is five minutes from my house has been here -- renamed at that -- after him. his picture is in my local post office and i would like to honor verbally two people who are important to me serving in vietnam and afghanistan. grady and eric who died of emotional wounds after they came home. thank you. goodbye.
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host: james kitfield? guest: absolutely, lieutenant michael murphy is in my book. in each of these stories there is a decision, as i mentioned where they cut -- they could have done the easy and safe thing and they did the hard thing and the right thing. and michael murphy case, he was a seal team leader in and overwatch position and they get exposed by two gutter -- goat herders who wander into their position, i think it is a five-man team, and they are in many -- enemy territory and here they are with two goat herders, one of which is a young teenager, and they had to make a decision, what do we do with them. the easy thing would've been to kill them, because the mission required -- they could have justified killing the goat herders.
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but michael murphy puts it to a vote and he makes a very eloquent argument that we cannot kill these innocent goat herders even though it is probably going to put our lives in a forfeit if we let them go. and that is what happens. they let them go and quickly the taliban showed up, so the goat herders told the taliban fighters where the seals were. i get involved in a horrific fight. -- they get involved in a horrific fight. one of the team survives, but michael murphy in the middle of the fight, two of his fellow seals are badly wounded. he is badly wounded, and they lost radio communications. he gets up and goes into a clearing where he can get reception from his cell phone and calls back to base for reinforcements, exposing himself and is killed in the effort. he is front and center in the stories and is remarkable. host: that is called the valley
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of shadow, why? guest: that was something from marcus luttrell, the one who soprano -- who survived talking about the famous "then i go in the valley of shadow, i feel no people." -- no evil." that resonated with me. host: joe, willington -- wilmington, north carolina. when did you serve? caller: i went twice, once with the marines and the second time in 2004 with the second marines. as a chaplain i served with seat -- seal team two and 2012 in camp ripley. so we would see mercy -- murphy's face on the wall. host: did you have a question for mr. kitfield? caller: no.
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my question, i have read a number of books on medal of honor winners, and about the only time i call is on veterans day. and i come from people that served dating back to the spanish-american war with my uncle carving 18 on the sole of his shoe so he could go out with blackjack pershing to chase poncho via to my grandfather who went as a lawyer and lieutenant in world war i and my father who signed out out of college and he did 40 years. i chose to serve, and i only did 30 years. i was pretty upset i could only do 30 years. i did that as a chaplain, first with 3-2, and then seal team
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two, and then i worked over there with the defense attache in pakistan over in the fit fleet. -- fifth fleet. host: as a chaplain is there something that you often came back to when you talked to the soldiers. caller: they sent me to study arabic, so i talked to the imam where i was. i did a lot of humanitarian stuff and whatever the ambassador wanted us to do when we were going into deal with moderate imams and what programs or stuff that we were trying to do. and, some national guard people, and doing things like that. and we got to work with humanitarian projects which was different. we cannot do that in afghanistan, too much -- too
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violent a community. as chaplain, you take care of all your people regardless of religion, and background. you take care of the families, you do the burials and notifications and stuff like that. it is very difficult, but in itself where you get shot at or whatever, it impacts all veterans. all veterans have their burdens to bear, their nightmares to deal with. and, i just wanted to say on veterans day, about the only time i ever call c-span, to all veterans you are worthy. thank you very much. god bless you and have a good day. guest: what a fascinating career. and i have run into a number of chaplains in the field in afghanistan and iraq and the old adage that there are not many atheists in foxholes rings true. i imagine that his service to
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the service members in combat zones was incredibly important. so, hats off to the chaplain. host: the book is "in the company of heroes: the inspiring stories of medal of honor recipients from america's longest wars in afghanistan and iraq." james kitfield our guest this morning and, you also feature army staff sergeant david bella via -- and i want to show the citation, the reading of the citation of his medal of honor ceremony of june 25 2019. [video clip] >> the president authorized by an act of congress has awarded in the name of congress medal of honor to staff sergeant david g. bellavia ferc conspicuous gallantry at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. staff sergeant distinguished himself by acts of gallantry above and beyond the car -- the
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call of duty on november 10, 2000 four while serving as squad leader in support of operation phantom fury. while clearing a house, a squad became trapped in a room by intense fire coming from waste fortified -- from a fortified position from the stairs. mel -- recognizing the immediate danger, he retrieved an automatic weapon and enter the doorway. with m&m e -- with enemy rounds around him, he fired at a rate that were -- that was covering fire. a bradley fighting vehicle was brought forth to suppress the enemy, but due to high walls they cannot fire directly at the enemy position. the staff sergeant enter the house and came under intense enemy fire. he observed an insurgent preparing to launch a rocket
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propelled grenade. recognizing the grave danger, the staff sergeant assaulted the enemy position, killing one insurgent and wounding another who ran to a different part of the house. realizing that he had an uncleared dark room to his back moved to clear it. an insurgent came down the stairs firing at him. the previously wounded insurgent reemerged and engaged staff sergeant bellavia. he entered further into the darkened room returned fire and eliminated both. the staff sergeant received enemy fire from another insurgent emerging from the closet and the darkened wound. exchanging gunfire he pursued the enemy up the stairs and eliminated him. on the second floor, he moved to a door that opens to the roof. at this point a fifth insurgent leapt onto the second floor roof. staff sergeant bellavia engaged through a window wounding him in the back and legs and causing
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them to fall off of the roof. acting on instinct to save the members of his platoon, he ultimately cleared an entire enemy fieldhouse, destroyed four insurgents and badly wounded a faith. his bravery and disregard for his own safety and unselfishness and courageous actions are keeping in the final -- the greatest traditions in military service. [end video clip] host: listening to that story of the soldier that you featured in this book, what code-3 mind? guest: his story, and i got a chance to talk to him is just incredible. the battle of volusia was -- fallucia was the most intense urban conflict since the tet offensive. if you can imagine what urban conflict is like, think about
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the last 20 minutes of "saving private ryan" and you get an idea. david bellavia was heroic, exposing himself to suppress the machine gun fire, it gets him and then makes a decision to go in, practically alone, he had one other soldier at his rear, protecting his rear, but reentered the house alone knowing that there were al qaeda fighters inside of the house, and decides that he is going to single-handedly complete the mission of clearing the house. that alone to me is almost unfathomable and heroic. and what he experiences in the house is a house of horror. i call it the house of broken mirrors because there are broken mirrors from the bradley round on the walls and on the floors,
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and he is seeing insurgent faces in the broken mirror and trying to figure out where that is coming from and where the person is in the dark with night vision goggles on. it is a horrific scene of combat. and then after dispensing the last insurgent in hand-to-hand combat, smoking a cigarette and thinking, ok i will wait for my teammates to catch up with me now, my mission is complete. and then have to engage this other insurgent who drops out of the sky from the third floor, it is just an incredible story. and, he is an incredible individual. he said something that i would like to read if i could, it was really important to me. it gets to the soldiers who have each other's backs and to fight as americans coming back to a country that seems so partisan
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and divided. this is what david said to me. "there are one million plus reasons why americans are divided and throughout our history we have always disagreed and dissented that we have found ways to put our differences aside and figure out what is best for the nation. we in the argie -- the army do not care if you're dead, dying and i never cared what got a soldier worshiped, what color they are or who they loved. if someone is willing to get shot at for me and my buddies, i will lead or follow you anywhere." that gets to the example of the service members and what they discovered being proud americans serving their country but being part of something bigger than themselves. they have a good lesson to teach the rest of us who want to ever touch elevate every partisan squabble to an existential argument. they have an important lesson to teach us, and david bella view is a perfect example.
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host: then i b --e -- ben in utah. caller: good morning, i appreciate the opportunity to speak with mr. kitfield. i am a retired military veteran, a vietnam that. i serve from 1964 to 1990. so i gave 26 years of my life to a military career. part of that tour of duty was in vietnam. i had three tours in southeast asia, one in vietnam. one of the people i had the pleasure of serving alongside was a medal of honor recipient. his name was john lovett though -- and his name was john. he was in the air force like myself and we flew gunships in
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the republic of south vietnam and he eventually passed away from cancer a few years ago, but i always admired john quite a bit. and i just wanted to ask mr. kitfield if he has mentioned in your book. i am kind of curious about that. but, that said i also wanted to inject a common phrase that i think was first quoted by a commanding admiral during world war two that said that "all gave some, and some gave all." that is the attitude of most people serving on active duty. i have a couple of vietnam bumpers get -- bumper stickers on the back of my truck acknowledging the number of people we lost in vietnam.
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and also if you asked me why i volunteered, because i volunteered out of high school in 1964. i grew up with a family where my father was in the marine corps in world war ii and served many places in the south pacific including iwo jima. his older brother was vice commander of the american legion during peacetime in the 1970's. i come from a family of patriotic veterans who inspired me to go into the military right after can be -- completing high school. i grew up in an era where john kennedy made his speech, "ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." and he was assassinated in my senior year of high school which inspired me to join the conflict in vietnam. host: finish her thoughts. caller: i never really intended
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for my service to be a career, but i tell you what, the camaraderie in the military is far surpassed and unrecognized by people who never served. when people come to me and thanked me for my service, i always remind them that they would thank the goldstar families and the disabled veterans instead of people who came back whole. host: i'm in a leave it there for james. go ahead. guest: a lot to unpack, so it goes to my point that in some sense the all volunteer force is a family business. a lot of the people in my book and that i have met in uniform have come to us through a rich family tradition of service which is interesting. i did not write about those from vietnam. i limited this book so those who served in the poor -- to the post 9/11 wars and iraq and afghanistan.
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i covered those reuters and -- wars and i personally witnessed the all volunteer force and that was how i bracketed this book. i am familiar with these wars in the context of them so i wanted to write about the service members that i had seen in iraq and afghanistan. but, i wish i had known the story of this extraordinary individual from vietnam. there were more than a couple, 20050i think medal of honor recipient from vietnam. it was an infantry man's war in many ways and it was incredibly intense fighting. so, i appreciate his service. host: he mentioned president kennedy. write a little bit in the book about the role that president kennedy played in special forces. guest: president kennedy in the early 60's recognized that because of the nuclear age the
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idea was that they would be no more war for a while. unfortunately that was not the case. he recognized that there would be wars abundance -- of insurgency and terrorism, irregular warfare and he wanted to create a force expert in fighting those kinds of wars. he greatly expanded the special forces and is considered by the green berets as the father of the green berets. he was instrumental in the special forces creating the special forces community we have today. for that reason, he is considered a hero. host: margaret in massachusetts. your turn. caller: yes. shall i speak now? host: yes, go ahead. caller: i am here to honor my family. my father fought in world war i and he chased poncho villa from mexico. then they sent my father overseas and he was in france
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and then in the army of occupation. then my brother was in world war ii and he flew the gliders, i do not think they fly them anymore. my husband was 17 and his father sign for him to go into the navy so he was in two wars, world war ii and korea. and i just want to honor them. i love them all. they are all gone, but to me they are heroes. they all deserve medals but none of them ever got one. host: thank you for calling in. another recipient is thomas patrick payne, tell us about him. guest: he has an extraordinary army ranger and was actually wounded in afghanistan and almost had to get shuffled out of service because his leg got so bad, but he managed to not only rehabilitate his leg, but
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he won a very special ranger competition for the special forces community. his unit is in iraq, gets noticed that isis has captured 70 plus kurdish civilians and fighters and they will execute them. they saw satellite and drone pictures that showed them digging mass graves, so they decide to go out and rescue these hostages held by isis executioners. they fly in on the prison at night, and immediately get hit with machine gun fire as they come out of the helicopters. one of his close friends and fellow rangers is cut down and killed by machine gun fire. they continued towards the target. the prison itself catches fire
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in the firefight. there are machine gunners from isis in the prison complex. the building is burning so the hostages are in danger of being burned alive. he grabs a pair of bolt cutters and with some cover from one of his comrades runs into this building under machine gun fire and not once but twice, but three times with smoke at his knees and his coughing and his eyes are watering, and he is dodging machine gun bullets. he finally gets the lock on this prison door open with the bolt cutters and personally escorts and sometimes bum rushes hostages that are terrified out of the burning building and is the last person out of the building alive. and he proclaims as he gets out last man out, and they saved all of the hostages. he did not know any of them but he was willing to go into a burning building under machine gun fire to save them.
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and he lost a good friend who he named his firstborn after, and that is the kind of stories that these individuals have. a lot of these stories are for people who did not make it back, and the comment was made to be a number of times that this is a burden to have this honor, because it reminds me of the more staff my life and i do it because i want people -- the worst day of my life and i want to do it because i want people to know about the ones that did not make it back. host: the story of a hostage situation, i think in the book you quote him or soldiers saying "for good reasons, hostage rescue missions almost have a mythic status in the lore of special forces, successfully rescuing prisoners from a determined enemy entire his airtight intelligence, extreme tactical precision, bravado,
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speed, stealth and a little bit of luck and the stakes are always life and death." that is exactly right. going back to the israelis rescuing the hostages to our own failed mission to try and rescue the iran hostages delta force at desert one. they are defining missions, the most difficult missions because the enemy has the hostages under complete control, so any time there is a danger, the enemy could kill the five -- could kill the hostage and you fighting could inadvertently kill the hostage. they are very difficult there is nothing more to the dna of special forces they had a hostage rescue missions. our own special forces was created as an independent special forces command because of the failed rescue mission in iran. they are close into the dna of
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special forces to try to rescue innocent hostages from a determined enemy. host: james, santa fe, new mexico. caller: thank you for taking my call. i have a question for mr. kitfield but i want to give you a little bit of background where i am coming from. my father fought in world war ii world war ii, part of the in rate -- invasion of normandy. i am sorry. he had a purple heart and bronze star. when i was in college -- actually i joined the national guard when i was in college. i did not serve in vietnam. i was -- when i went to seminary, i was in the air force reserves. and then i got in the navy on active duty and i served there for 20 years. six of those years i was with
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the marines. after i retired i served in the v.a. for 18 more years. i have a christian -- question for mr. kitfield. in light of the sacrifices that your medal of honor recipients have made, and in light of what i found having had all of these experiences with deployment, death, and homelessness and drug addiction during the v.a., what does your guest think of the january 6 insurrection on our democracy? guest: i was incredibly disturbed by what happened on january 6. i have lived in washington for 30 years. the capital is a sacred place of our democracy. to see riders -- rioters and a
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mob attacking was disturbing. host: allen in maryland. an iraq veteran, good morning. are you there? let me go to brian in massachusetts. good morning. caller: good morning. thank you for letting me ask the gentleman a couple of questions. we hear or read about when the medal of honor was distributed to civil war recipients and spanish-american war, and many were given out. and then we watch gary cooper starring in a movie and then, close to my heart because i served in the marine corps, i wonder if you researched any of
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that in writing your book, or if you have any comments about what i have said. i will hang up and hear what you have to say. guest: i researched the history of the medal of honor itself, and you are right, it started with abraham lincoln in 1862. he committed it -- created it to honor noncommissioned officers that had extreme gallantry. in 1863 it was expanded to include officers. that was just in time for joshua chamberlain to receive the medal of honor for his actions in defending the flank of the union army in the battle of gettysburg and repelling numerous confederate charges up little round top, thus helping win the decisive battle of the civil war. i have not researched whether there were too many or not
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enough such medals given. i know and some research in my book which includes the medal of honor recipients for iraq and afghanistan that at one point it was thought that they were being too stingy, and the secretary of defense and jim mattis asked the services to go back and look at some of the engagements and whether individuals who had won a distinguished service cross, the second most -- highest honor for gallantry, whether those might actually deserve a medal of honor. some were upgraded to a medal of honor. honor. i think that was a good thing. these engagements, if you read these narratives, you will find they are as intense as any combat any generation of american troops have been in,
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and these were richly deserved recognitions of that. host: jim kittfield, how do these awards compared to other combats? guest: as i said, for 20 years of war, there were 25 given. in vietnam, for instance, i think there were more than 200 given. it's very hard to get into codifying what is and what is not deserving of a medal of honor, but certainly, these 25, if people read these narratives, i think everyone will agree that these were richly deserved honors. and as i said, they are weighty honors. when you read these narratives, you realize the truth of the statements. they remind these recipients of the worst day of their lives.
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host: i want to end on the anniversary of the tomb of the unknown soldier in washington, d.c. two days ago, november 9, marked that day. it was opened up to the public for the first time in nearly 100 years. have you been there? what are your thoughts on this? guest: i have been to the tomb of the unknown soldier, and i recommend any american go visit that. it is hallowed ground. it is constantly guarded and the changing of the guard is something everyone should witness. it's an amazing ceremony. those unknown soldiers stand in for all of the unknown soldiers in all of our wars. if you want to have a place where you kind of realize the sacrifice that service members make, go to arlington cemetery, where you hit cross after cross after cross, fields of crosses, and the tomb of the unknown
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soldier there to remind everyone of the sacrifices the men and women in uniform have made throughout our history to keep us a free nation. host: james kittfie >> c-span is>> your unfiltered view of government. >> mediacom was ready. we never slow down. schools and businesses went virtual and we powered a new reality because at mediacom we are built to keep you ahead. >> mediacom support c-span is a public service along with these other television providers giving your front row seat to democracy. ♪ >> c-span's "washington journal"
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every day taking your calls live on the news of the day and we will discuss policy issues that impact you. coming up sunday, the american society of civil engineers executive director thomas smith discusses the implementation of the bipartisan info structure built and priorities for projects around the u.s. then the former cdc acting director will be on to talk about covid therapies and response funding in the build back better act. watch " washington journal" live on sunday morning on c-span or on c-span now. join the discussion with your phone calls, text messages and tweets. ♪ >> sunday on q&a, a discussion of the 14th amendment with professors randy barnett of the georgetown university law center and college of law's evan b
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urnick on their book, "the original meaning of the 14th amendment," which they insist has been misinterpreted. >> many of the criticisms are valid. many of them are overblown. the seeds of liberty replanted by the declaration of independence and eventually harvested, but the rest of our constitutional history is about the story of the development of those seeds, into a full-blown liberation movement. >> it is to make the world all over again. that is what the abolitionists did with the 14th amendment. >> professors randy barnett and evan burnick, sunday on c-span's q&a. you can listen to all of our podcast on our new c-span now app. >> next week on the c-span
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networks, both chambers of congress are in session. the house will take up president biden's build back better social spending plan. nancy pelosi delayed a vote on the bill before the veterans day recess. the delay came at the request of some moderate democrats who wanted the congressional budget office to analyze the bill. on tuesday at 10 a.m. eastern, live on c-span 3, the homeland security secretary testifies in an oversight hearing before the senate judiciary committee. the hearing was was found less month -- last month after the secretary tested positive for covid-19. also at 10:00 live on c-span. org, the leading cybersecurity experts from the white house, homeland security and that fbi will testify for the house oversight and reform committee on strategies to disrupt hackers and build resilience against cyber threats. on wednesday at 10 a.m. eastern, live on c-span 3, the confirmation hearing for federal communication commission chair
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nominee before the senate commerce committee. if confirmed, she would be the first woman to serve in this capacity. the committee will take up other nominations for the commissioner of the federal trade commission. at 10:30 a.m. on and our app, a virtual meeting of the house appropriations -- to discuss the u.s. role in vaccine equity. watch next week on the c-span networks or you can watch our full coverage on c-span now, our new mobile video app. head over to to stream video live or on-demand any time. c-span, your unfiltered view of government. next, remarks by former new jersey governor chris christie. he spoke at the recent republican jewish coalition in las vegas. he's followed by former vice president mike pence who delivered the keynote address.


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