Opinion

Mom of first SEAL killed in Iraq demands apology from chairman of Joint Chiefs in open letter

Debbie Lee, the mother of the first Navy SEAL killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq wrote an open letter to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey after his comments that the fall of the city would not be “symbolic in any way.”

“I am shaking and tears are flowing down my cheeks as I watch the news and listen to the insensitive, pain inflicting comments made by you in regards to the fall of Ramadi,” she wrote in the letter published by Fox News on Monday.

“‘The city itself is not symbolic in any way’? Oh, really?” she wrote, referring to Dempsey’s comments. “Are you willing to meet with me and with the families who have lost a son, daughter, husband, wife, father, mother, aunt, uncle, grandson, or teammate?”

Fighting between Iraqi government forces backed by U.S. air power and Islamic State fighters is continuing in the central Iraq city. Reuters on Sunday quoted Iraqi government source as saying the Islamists controlled up to 20 percent of the city.

She also countered remarks Dempsey made declaring the fall of Ramadi “not central to the future of Iraq.

“My son (Marc Lee) and many others gave their future in Ramadi. Ramadi mattered to them. Many military analysts say that as goes Ramadi so goes Iraq,” she wrote.

Debbie Lee Marc Lee
Debbie Lee and son Marc Lee.

The grieving mom contrasted Dempsey’s words with those of an Iraqi general she interviewed in 2010 after her visit to the site where her son was killed in 2006.

“We will tell our children, our grandchildren, for generations to come we will tell them what Americans have done. There is American blood poured out on our soil,” he told her.

“It seems the Iraqis understand the importance more than you do, sir,” Lee wrote.

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She demanded an apology from Dempsey for the families of those killed in Ramadi and “our troops whose bodies were blown to pieces from IEDs and bullet holes leaving parts and pieces behind.”

“You and this administration have minimized that Ramadi could fall, now you are minimizing that it is falling, but you Sir WILL NOT minimize the sacrifice my son Marc Lee made or any of our brave warriors!” Lee wrote before ending her letter with a simple “Awaiting an Apology.”

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Carmine Sabia

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