My name is Bill Bruhmuller. I am a US Navy retired Master Chief Petty Officer having served twenty five years in the Navy’s Underwater Demolition and SEAL Teams. I am a "Plank – Owner” of SEAL Team Two.
I am not accustomed to speaking outside our Navy community. But I feel I must to register my complaint against the injustice being perpetrated against those three SEAL enlisted men being court martialed for doing their job.
Before getting too far into this letter, I think it best to submit my qualifications for writing and commenting on what I feel is an grave injustice to these brave SEALs.
I joined the Navy at age 17, a high school drop-out that excelled in sports but lacked the academic drive necessary to graduate. The Korean War was in full swing and I wanted to get involved. I believe the Koreans would have laid down their arms had they known who had joined the American Forces.
After five months of shore duty, I soon learned that shipboard duty was not as glamorous as I thought and when the request for volunteers for the Underwater Demolition Teams was announced, I immediately raised my hand. I passed all the physical requirements and soon found myself at the Naval Amphibious Base, Little Creek, Va. I will not get into the four months of "ass-whoopin" we took. But, at the end, I was fortunate to be among the twenty one graduates out of the 156 who began the training.
I was assigned to UDT 22 and for the next eight years learned all the duties of a Navy frogman. I made several deployments to the Caribbean and Mediterranean. Additionally, I attended paratroopers’ jump training at Fort Benning, Georgia, Jump Master training at Fort Bragg, NC and Jungle Warfare school in the Panama, Canal Zone and a variety of other schools (for a total of 33 throughout my career). During this time I was give responsibilities usually assigned to senior enlisted and at times, officers.
In 1962 I was one of the original 50 men selected to commission the SEAL Team Two. JFK realized that the US unconventional warfare capability needed to be expanded and that each service should have its own specialty.
We trained with all the other services and were taught by the best. However, I hold a deep respect for the US Army Special Forces. They were very instrumental in getting SEAL Teams off the ground. In addition to all the schools the most memorable move by the SEAL leadership was to allow enlisted men to act and perform in a leadership capacity. SEAL EM’s planned and conducted direct combat action missions in many hostile areas of the world and did so, very successfully.
I expect that this holds true in today’s combat zones. SEALs are trained for war and every mission SEAL participates in could be a life ending mission. NEVER has a SEAL ever backed out of a direct action mission regardless of knowing that this one could be his last.
Today we are fighting an enemy that has total disregard for human life. They will kill women, children, people of their own faith and do it in the most cruel and barbaric manner. They must be stopped.
SEAL Petty Officers, McCabe, Huertas and Keefe are now having to mount a legal defense to defend them for having done the job the US government has trained and directed them to accomplish.
The SEALs captured Ahmed Hashim Abed, an Iraqi terrorist who is the guy responsible for the murder, mutilation, burning and hanging for display four American contractors for the entire world to see. Now that he is in captivity, he complains that the SEALs "roughed him up and he has a split lip." Poor baby. Had I been there this lad would have been sent to enjoy one of those 72 virgins.
I was fortunate to have served with men that were true leaders that led by example and schooled junior personal to be leaders. Whenever there was a discipline problem with an enlisted man, it was the Chief or a senior enlisted that administered the punishment. Rarely were officers involved, unless the offense warranted intervention by higher authority.
This case should be one of those examples. Court martial three SEALs for punching a terrorist in the stomach? Are you kidding me?
If they did anything wrong — and for the life of me, I can’t see that they did — this is a matter for one of my successors. Some Master Chief should chew their butts like they’ve never been chewed before. Run them around the exercise yard ‘til they drop from exhaustion and then confine them to quarters for a day. But you don’t court martial any soldier, sailor, airman or marine — far less three of the very best we have — for some chicken offense such as this.
If our press and public choose to be politically correct ignoramuses, so be it. However, I fear that our military leadership and officer corps have allowed themselves to become so mired in political correctness that they are doing damage to our troops and our country.
Several years ago I attended a retirement ceremony for the Commander, Atlantic Fleet. I remember he said that the "Navy had too few Officers that would make a decision that they thought was best for the Navy regardless of impact on career and too many that would not make a decision for fear of impact on their Navy career.” I fear this is what is happening to our military today.
I believe it is time for all veterans to stand up and voice their opinion on this matter. Sign petitions, call your elected officials, and in general, let your opinion be heard. This is a matter of loyalty to those who served before and those who will serve after.
Please join thousands of other Americans in signing the HUMAN EVENTS petition to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates asking that he free the Navy SEALs.