The attack on our Consulate in Libya has additional meaning for me.
I know we were all saddened when we heard what had happened to the ambassador, his aid and the two Navy Seals. I felt especially saddened because I know what they felt when they realized that no help would come, and that they were going to die.
I had a similar experience while serving in Vietnam. I don't often talk about this experience because it was so long ago, but these events compel me.
My event also took place in the month of September. It was 1967, and the night of my 21st birthday. Along with 12 others, I was guarding a bridge that the Vietcong kept destroying. I was in an M-42, which is an open turreted tank with twin 40-millimeter guns mounted.
We had a four-man crew. The bridge we were guarding was about a 100-yard-long earthen bridge with a couple of big drainage pipes going under it.
We were parked on the center of the bridge and had four infantrymen with light machine guns stationed at each end. Around one or two o'clock in the morning we were attacked by two platoon-sized forces of NVA (North Vietnamese Army) soldiers.
Unlike Vietcong, who would shoot at you and run, these soldiers came to fight. When we ''popped'' a flare and saw nearly a hundred men as close as 75 yards, I remember thinking, ''I'm dead.'' It was like being in the middle of a grand finale at a fireworks display, the amount of tracer bullets alone lit up the sky. The infantry's radio was destroyed so they couldn't call for help.
Another crew member and I were in the turret. Our two other crewmembers were sleeping on the back deck plates. The amount of fire we were taking was so overwhelming that the two sleeping crewmembers couldn't even make into the turret.
Our only radio was in the driver's location which was in the front of the vehicle and impossible to get to. Within 15 or 20 minutes, eight of us were killed and the rest wounded.
Some of the weapons that were used in the Libya assault were the same ones used on us. From the limited video I saw I could tell that the shoulder-fired rockets were RPGs. As unbelievable as this may sound, one of those rockets entered our lightly armored turret, went between my arm and my torso and exited through the back without exploding. The force of it knocked me out of the vehicle and onto a pile of railroad ties. Our main gun was now out of commission.
Though we were unable to call for help, a nearby LZ (landing zone) sent out a helicopter gun ship because they could tell that a firefight was in progress. That one helicopter with rockets and machine gun fire was able to kill enough of the enemy to stop the attack.
When I heard Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta say that they couldn't send someone in to help because they didn't know what was happening on the ground, I knew at that moment that a fundamental change had come about. For more than 200 years our military doctrine has been that we would move heaven and earth to save fellow soldiers regardless of cost. Those people who sent the helicopter to rescue me didn't know what they would find either; all they knew was that fellow Americans were under attack.
I really feel sorry for the young men and women serving our country in a war zone because the promise that we will never leave a fellow soldier behind has always provided solace. That promise was broken. I personally feel this administration did not want to risk a military rescue attempt because they did not want any negative news during their political campaign.
So no one should be offended that this author was hoping for a political resolution on Tuesday. A president who fails to protect our military when their lives were in the balance should be removed.
Moadus is a Girard resident.