Only If You Succeed

September 21st, 2011
By

Let me first say this before you read on. If by chance you are sensitive in nature or totally closed to differing opinions, please do not read any further. If you want to share your mana'o however strong it may be for or against anyone's post, please do so with respect and accept that there will be differnces of opinion. And last, Wassup Wit Dat! is - and always will be - a personal blog and does not share or have any influence by The Honolulu Star-Advertiser whatsoever other than being a medium to post in.

We clear? Crystal.

This little mo'olelo is actually about an event that happened just over two years ago. It involved a (former) Marine, an ambush, a humvee, orders, lots and lots of bullets, some guy, some other guy and saving many many lives in the face of death itself.

If you haven't heard of Dakota Meyer by now, its time you ventured out of Makua Cave and Google it. There are 17.5 million pages - and growing - about him being that he is the first living recipient from the Marine Corps to receive the Medal of Honor - the highest military decoration - as all others were given posthumously.

So why hasn't he been court-martialed?

We'll get back to that in a minute.

As we've all experienced, witnessed, read or watched tv/movies - all branches of the military are beasts. They are run by a different set of rules, regulations and orders that go way beyond civillian life and live by such things as code, motto and honor. Go against any written - or unwritten - "law" and be prepared to suffer the consequences.

From the numerous articles I've read about Dakota Meyer, they all say the same thing.... he disobeyed an order. I bet you missed the "order" in the earlier paragraph as many people who read the articles seem to have.

Don't get me wrong. In my book, Dakota Meyer is an extraordinary superhero and his actions were out of the universe courageous to not only have gone back once but four more times! If I was in battle, there would be no other person I'd want next to me in that foxhole than him and knowing that if I was in trouble, he'd do anything to come and help but he did it breaking the very backbone of the military system.

He disobeyed one order.... nine times.

After being denied to enter the fight four times - along with over hearing on the radio of denied artillery support - he took actions into his own hands by enlisting the help of Staff Sgt. Juan J. Rodriguez-Chavez - and after freeing Capt. Will Swenson - and in the course of six hours, they led five fights into the ambushed ravine rescuing three dozen trapped brothers in arms and recovering four dead U.S. servicemen.

So why would a Marine disobey an order? It's the very essence in which is the most sacred rule in any military branch having the most weight in consequences. He said it was the right thing to do - along with most of the country - and had made up his mind as he told his grandfather about the events, "the hell I'm not [going in]".

Imagine for a moment if you will, had he still gone yet not been able to save anyone.... would he still have received the Medal of Honor... or would he have been court-martialed for disobeying that order? What if he saved only one life instead of the 36? What if..... they weren't able to reach the soldiers in need and Staff Sgt. Rodriguez-Chavez was killed during the attempt, would he be charged with manslaughter instead?

So because everyone that could be saved was saved and no one died during the lone approved rescue, does it make it ok to have disobeyed an order? There are many civillians who'd say it was the "right thing to do" but who determines what that right thing to do is? Again, what if Staff Sgt. Rodriguez-Chavez got killed and no one was saved... was it still the right thing to do (Meyer enlisting help) cause he tried to help?

From the about.com website:

Military members who fail to obey the lawful orders of their superiors risk serious consequences. Article 90 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) makes it a crime for a military member to WILLFULLY disobey a superior commissioned officer. Article 91 makes it a crime to WILLFULLY disobey a superior Noncommissioned or Warrant Officer. Article 92 makes it a crime to disobey any lawful order (the disobedience does not have to be "willful" under this article). In fact, under Article 90, during times of war, a military member who willfully disobeys a superior commissioned officer can be sentenced to death.

In fact, if it can be shown that one or more of the soldiers influenced others to disobey, they may find the crime of Mutiny, under Article 94 added to the list of charges. Mutiny carries the death penalty, even in "peace time."

An oath is usually repeated once enlisted:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

So is there really a choice to obey an order even after taking an oath? Will subordinates, in the military, be on the rise to challenge orders because it's the "right thing to do"? Do military members now have to decide which orders are worthy and fearless of prosecution even though it is written crystal clear in the UCMJ? It appears after this that the military members can obey or disobey orders at their own risk since it'll depend on the level of success garnished.

To decipher an order is to understand it to be lawful or unlawful which in turn will determine it obeyable or disobeyable. An order to perform a military duty, no matter how dangerous is lawful, as long as it doesn't involve commission of a crime.

So does the order for Corporal Dakota Meyer to not enter the fight be considered unlawful? If so, then he had every right - at his own peril - to go and fight but if it was a lawful order then why isn't he court-martialed under Article 90 of the UCMJ?

You and I live in the "real" world where laws are only obeyed if you want, where people run red lights cause they can and still dangerously text and drive. Do you dare do any of that on a military base? I bet you even make a complete stop at a stop sign when on base right? No lie. In the military, there is order and a chain of command that everyone adheres to so as a soldier, you don't get to make "decisions".

In any case, Sergeant Meyer is a bonified hero by his actions alone and deserves all the military accolades that go along with it. He shakes a lot of it off and deflects the publicity to countless others and truly is a regular Joe even asking President Obama to call him back on his lunch break.

I have the utmost respect for every single serviceman and servicewoman in our Armed Forces - past and present. They not only have to work together as one but adhere to strict rules and regulations regarding their respective branch....... and it is out of that respect that I question his "authority" to act on his own disobeying the very foundation of the Marine Corps and every Armed Forces.

There's no doubt his acts were heroic and no one questions his courage in the face of danger but he did disobey an order. I hope he realizes that while the results of his actions saved lives, the next time a soldier goes against orders and the results are not of the same magnitude, that soldier will get hung out to dry. It also sets a precedent where you'll be able to disobey orders as long as you can produce results.

If I'm in trouble, I'd hope the Dakota Meyers of the world come to my rescue........ but if they don't they bettah have a damn good reason.
.
.
.

Just out of the blue, it reminded me of a scene from "A Few Good Men" and by the way, the two posterboy model Marines on trial were dishonorably discharged and later found out for themselves that even though they were following orders, they should have exercised their own set of values overriding the order.

Lt. Kendrick: I have two books at my bedside, Lieutenant: the Marine Corps Code of Conduct and the King James Bible. The only proper authorities I am aware of are my commanding officer, Colonel Nathan R. Jessep, and the Lord our God. "
Kaffee: Lt. Kendrick, was Lance Corporal Dawson given a below average rating on this last report because you learned he had been sneaking food to Private Bell?
Capt. Ross: Object!
Judge Randolph: Not so fast. Lieutenant?
Lt. Kendrick: Lance Corporal Dawson was given a below average rating because he had committed a crime.
Kaffee: A crime? What crime did he commit? Lieutenant Kendrick? Dawson brought a hungry guy some food... what crime did he commit?
Lt. Kendrick: He disobeyed an order!
Kaffee: And because he did. Because he exercised his own set of values. Because he made a decision about the welfare of another Marine which was in conflict with an order of yours he was punished. Isn't that right.
Lt. Kendrick: Lance Corporal Dawson disobeyed an order!
Kaffee: Yeah, but it wasn't a real order, was it? After all, it's peace time. He wasn't being asked to secure a hill or advance on a beach head. I mean, surely a Marine of Dawson's intelligence can be trusted to determine, on his own, which are the really important orders and which orders might, say, be morally questionable? Lieutenant Kendrick? Can he? Can Dawson determine on his own which orders he's going to follow?
Lt. Kendrick: No, he cannot.
Kaffee: A lesson he learned after the Curtis Bell incident, am I right?
Lt. Kendrick: I would think so.
Kaffee: You know so don't you, Lieutenant.
Capt. Ross: Object!
Judge Randolph: Sustained.
Kaffee: Lieutenant Kendrick, one final question. If you had ordered Dawson to give Santiago a code red...
Lt. Kendrick: [Interrupting, exasperated] I SPECIFICALLY ORDERED THOSE MEN NOT TO TOUCH SANTIAGO!
Kaffee: ...would it be reasonable to think he would have disobeyed you again?
Capt. Ross: Lieutenant, don't answer that!
Kaffee: You don't have to, I'm through.
Capt. Ross: Lieutenant
Col. Jessep: We follow orders, son. We follow orders or people die. It's that simple. Are we clear?
Kaffee: Yes sir.
Col. Jessep: Are we clear?
Kaffee: Crystal.

Posted in WWD! | 22 Comments »

22 Responses to “Only If You Succeed”

  1. GA Bows:

    First


  2. GA Bows:

    First off I'll say I am not nor was I ever enlisted in any branch of the military.

    As a person, I have the utmost respect for him... that he did just blows my mind and I am glad he's on our side.

    In a military setting there's 2 sides of the coin; he broke the chain of command period. BUT he also followed an unspoken law, never leave a man behind.

    It's a hard one... all in all I feel he did what is right, what he thought was the right thing to do.


  3. hawaiiobsessed:

    Wow. GA Bow said it well I think. 2 sides of the coin. Good job BL with your explanation. The whole time I was reading I kept thinking of "A Few Good Men". I had a hard time with that movie. Even after maturing and watching it more and more, I still had a tough time. Reconciling the order thing with the right thing.
    I have never been in the service. Both my parents were and I wholeheartedly support and thank our service men and women and their families.
    I guess I come down to yes, there are orders but you also have to live with yourself in following those. I also understand that in the Military and for good reason, doing as you want and please isn't an option. Tough one.
    I agree with you that if someone disobeys orders and it doesn't turn out well, they are going to be hung out to dry. Maybe they should make a "token" punishment for that part of it... goes back to what you said.
    You did a good job with this BL, I feel like I am rambling.


  4. 9thIslandGirl:

    Whoa, deep topic. Like hawaiiobsessed, I was torn when I saw "A Few Good Men," because I thought Col. Jessep made some good points. Like GA Bows, I immediately thought of the Marines' belief that their fellow Marines are brothers, and they don't leave them behind. I'm not in the military, but I'm a military supporter.

    I can only speculate that Dakota Meyer may have been given a verbal warning about disobeying orders, and then a pat on the back for a job well done.


  5. sally:

    "Damned if you do, damned if you don't". Sometimes it's a judgement call, consequences to be dealt with later.

    ...and now I really want to watch A Few Good Men again. Love that movie!


  6. M:

    Howzit BL and Kwonics!
    Well said BL!
    We need more people like dat!


  7. B:

    first off, I would like to thank those that serve/served in our military forces. the sacrifices made are tremendous.

    I agree with GA Bows. the unspoken law of never leave a man behind. Laws are written in black and white. laws and how it affects real life is still left to interpretation. doing what is right is one's responsibility irregardless of the consequences.

    K...nuff...my head stay all sore now.


  8. buddahbelly:

    Howzit Bl,

    Could I sit back and watch my comrades and friends get wounded and killed? I don't think so, but I wasn't there. Either way he did what he thought was the right and moral thing to do. If your core beliefs are such that they would compel you to disobey a direct order because you believe they were wrong, you would have no choice but to act on your personal moral code. The consequence would be to live with the regret of inaction. We hear it all too often when atrocities are committed in war that "I was only following orders". Well in this case, imho disobeying a direct order under those circumstances was the morally right thing to do and an action that Dakota Meyers can live with. He'll never say "what if"?


  9. hemajang:

    eh BL, heavy topic, what is crystal clear is that in war...sh!t happens. From what I understand there were many questions on the mission itself w/documented reprimand of commanders in charge. Sgt. Meyer's heroism and deserved medal of honor attracted a lot of attention and perhaps unkindly of the military if you look into the details. I'm just speculating but Meyer may have taken things into his own hands (command responsibility) when it became obvious that leaders were screwing up the mission.

    You already posed the dilemma between following orders versus following an ethical/moral choice. A Few Good Men illustrates that question along with many real life examples from our past, including the My Lai massacre and even Lt. Watada's refusal to deploy with his unit to Iraq.


  10. Ocean Lover:

    "You never go wrong doing WHAT'S RIGHT"

    I believe for the most part that's true. I saw the news interviews about Dakota Meyers and the interviewer asked him "Did you think you were going to die?" and without missing a beat Dakota responded "I KNEW I was going to die". I can't even imagine that kind of heroism.

    OL.................doing what's right and still pilikia


  11. carokun:

    Howdy BL,

    Small correction - your statement that no one alive has been given the Medal of Honor - "as all others were given posthumously" is incorrect. A few AJA (Americans of Japanese Ancestry) from the 100th Inf. Batt./442nd Infantry were also given the Medal of Honor, while still alive. One that comes to mind is Barney Hajiro. He passed away in January, earlier this year. Senator Inoyue also is a Medal of Honor recipient. Wikipedia says there are 85 living Medal of Honor recipients, 16 from the Marine Corps.

    :)


  12. carokun:

    Howdy BL,

    Small correction - your statement that no one alive has been given the Medal of Honor - "as all others were given posthumously" is incorrect. A few AJA (Americans of Japanese Ancestry) from the 100th Inf. Batt./442nd Regiment were also given the Medal of Honor, while still alive. One that comes to mind is Barney Hajiro. He passed away in January, earlier this year. Senator Inouye also is a Medal of Honor recipient. Wikipedia says there are 85 living Medal of Honor recipients, 16 from the Marine Corps.

    :)


  13. carokun:

    Please delete comment #11, sorry had typos. Thanks!


  14. hemajang:

    Anyone see last night PBS Frontline "The Wounded Platoon"? Watched most of it until body telling me, go sleep. It focused on a single soldier, suffering from PTSD, in prison for murder of a fellow soldier after being dishonorably discharged. Without seeing the conclusion, documentary put a bad light on the government's handling of soldiers w/PTSD symptoms and avoidance of responsibility for their actions. Unlike the viet nam era that I came from, soldiers nowadays are deployed multiple times to Irag and Afghanistan. It must take a toll on their psyche and effect decision-making in combat. Sgt. Meyer's action was heroic but there are also atrocities to deal with in war.


  15. Braddah Lance:

    GA Bows:
    First

    And to you Da Quote of Da Day.....

    A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author.
    Gilbert K. Chesterton

    As a person, I have the utmost respect for him... that he did just blows my mind and I am glad he's on our side.

    Amen.

    In a military setting there's 2 sides of the coin; he broke the chain of command period. BUT he also followed an unspoken law, never leave a man behind.

    And DAT, will always be da age old dilemna dat will haunt every soldier in war. :neutral:

    It's a hard one... all in all I feel he did what is right, what he thought was the right thing to do.

    I'm just glad it turned out da way it did wea "everyone" won.
    .
    .
    .

    hawaiiobsessed:
    The whole time I was reading I kept thinking of "A Few Good Men".

    There are so many memorable scenes I wanted post in da blog... no mo' room.

    I guess I come down to yes, there are orders but you also have to live with yourself in following those.

    I can only assume das how PTSD really got to be accepted by da military as a bonafide condition.

    I also understand that in the Military and for good reason, doing as you want and please isn't an option.

    And das wat makes da Military a special beast.
    .
    .
    .

    9thIslandGirl:
    I can only speculate that Dakota Meyer may have been given a verbal warning about disobeying orders, and then a pat on the back for a job well done.

    Da people "in charge" of denying da artillery support have been reprimanded and das wea I'm torn cause wat if things went awry. Sgt. Meyer would have been reprimanded and da people in charge would have been commended wit saving more lives by not sending in soldiers into an ambush.

    It was almost like it was a "no, you can't go *wink wink*".
    .
    .
    .

    sally:
    "Damned if you do, damned if you don't". Sometimes it's a judgement call, consequences to be dealt with later.

    Isn't dat da sad part of war...

    ...and now I really want to watch A Few Good Men again. Love that movie!

    Da Wife hates wen we watch (again) cause I literally will repeat line by line da whole movie! :shock:
    .
    .
    .

    M:
    We need more people like dat!

    Now if only we had "superiors" wit da same mantra as a "regular Joe".......
    .
    .
    .

    B:
    first off, I would like to thank those that serve/served in our military forces. the sacrifices made are tremendous.

    Amen to dat.

    I agree with GA Bows. the unspoken law of never leave a man behind. Laws are written in black and white. laws and how it affects real life is still left to interpretation. doing what is right is one's responsibility irregardless of the consequences.

    So da biggest question should be... can you live with it?

    K...nuff...my head stay all sore now.

    But can you live with it? :razz:
    .
    .
    .

    buddahbelly:
    Could I sit back and watch my comrades and friends get wounded and killed? I don't think so, but I wasn't there.

    I for one wouldn't be able to... but then again seeing rpg's exploding in front of me and hearing bullets zip by face may make me think twice on the situation. I tink das why I wouldn't have done well in da military. I would have been always wanting to my buddies out one way or anoddah and eventually, I'd pay da ultimate price in doing so.

    Either way he did what he thought was the right and moral thing to do. If your core beliefs are such that they would compel you to disobey a direct order because you believe they were wrong, you would have no choice but to act on your personal moral code. The consequence would be to live with the regret of inaction.

    So to act on a moral code should supercede any threat of corporal punishment since living with da regret is too much to bear?

    We hear it all too often when atrocities are committed in war that "I was only following orders". Well in this case, imho disobeying a direct order under those circumstances was the morally right thing to do and an action that Dakota Meyers can live with. He'll never say "what if"?

    Rogah dat. He'll nevah have dat feeling of "what if" and a soldier back from war can say dat, Amen. Try click da above link to about.com and read on about the "I was only following orders".... interesting stuff.
    .
    .
    .

    hemajang:
    eh BL, heavy topic, what is crystal clear is that in war...sh!t happens.

    I can't speak from personal experience but I can only imagine da chaos all around.

    I'm just speculating but Meyer may have taken things into his own hands (command responsibility) when it became obvious that leaders were screwing up the mission.

    Das da way I interpreted it as well. But then you open Pandora's Box at every major decision then because at any given time, a person wit a moral or ethical conscience, can say the chain of command is screwing da pooch.

    You already posed the dilemma between following orders versus following an ethical/moral choice. A Few Good Men illustrates that question along with many real life examples from our past, including the My Lai massacre and even Lt. Watada's refusal to deploy with his unit to Iraq.

    :shock: I was tinking of those exact same tings as I was preparing da blog. Well da My Lai I didn't really know but I read about and Lt.Watada.
    .
    .
    .

    Ocean Lover:
    "You never go wrong doing WHAT'S RIGHT"

    But how do know WHO's right wen both sides say they are?

    ...the interviewer asked him "Did you think you were going to die?" and without missing a beat Dakota responded "I KNEW I was going to die". I can't even imagine that kind of heroism.

    I know! I was all chicken skin wen I heard dat. I can't imagine wat was running through his head going back time and time again and even getting wounded in da process.

    OL.................doing what's right and still pilikia

    Wat you pilikia about?
    .
    .
    .

    carokun:
    Small correction - your statement that no one alive has been given the Medal of Honor - "as all others were given posthumously" is incorrect. A few AJA (Americans of Japanese Ancestry) from the 100th Inf. Batt./442nd Infantry were also given the Medal of Honor, while still alive. One that comes to mind is Barney Hajiro. He passed away in January, earlier this year. Senator Inoyue also is a Medal of Honor recipient. Wikipedia says there are 85 living Medal of Honor recipients, 16 from the Marine Corps.

    With no disrespect to the 442nd (there will be no other infantry like that) and the Medal of Honor, the 442nd belonged to the Army branch. As stated above, there has been no recipient from the Marines to have received the Medal of Honor while living.


  16. rayboyjr:

    ... hey Braddah Lance ... choosing between what's legally right versus what's morally right ... it will always be a hard decision ... we should all feel blessed not to be under those circumstances ...

    ... but in the face of danger ... would you ever think of "the rules"? ... in chaos and confusion, I think instincts take over ... I'm just in awe of Dakota Meyer's instinct and bravery in this terrible situation ...

    ... I respect the military and their rules and codes of conduct ... but they will deal with those things in their own way ... to the rest of the us, he will always be a hero ...


  17. 2B:

    I believe he is the first living Medal of Honor Recipient from the Marines in the Afghanastan/Iraq conflicts era. There were other living recipients from the Marines from WWII, Vietnam Conflict, and Korean War.


  18. rayboyjr:

    ... unless Wikipedia is incorrect ... I found this information regarding living Medal of Honor recipients ...

    "Of the 85 living recipients, 14 earned their Medals of Honor in World War II, 13 in the Korean War, 55 in the Vietnam War, and three in the War in Afghanistan. Five earned their medal while serving in the U.S. Air Force, 56 in the U.S. Army, 16 in the U.S. Marine Corps, and 8 in the U.S. Navy."


  19. Ocean Lover:

    "OL.................doing what's right and still pilikia

    Wat you pilikia about?"

    No.......I'm referring to what Dakota did (the RIGHT THING) and still get "pilikia" because of it.

    Another example....if you see someone choking, you "do the right thing" and give um the HEIMLICH maneuver.....but in the heat of the moment you don't realize your strength and you make their guts come outta the person's mouth and they end up dying....then you get sued by that person's family even though all you were trying to do was HELP.

    OL


  20. SittingInLimbo:

    WELCOME BACK! geez has it been that long since I been on? that only now I've notice your blog? lmbo.

    Anywhos, what a tuff subject. I was one of those people in the cave. Yeah yeah I know. But I did google it. hahahaha. All I have to say is AWESOME! on what he did. My dad was in the army and if someone like Dakota rescued my father I would be forever greatful for he's bravery. It is true tho. Dam if you do and dam if you don't. What a screwy world we live in ugh!

    Just pure AWESOMENESS!!!! May the good lord bless you Dakota Meyer!


  21. anklebiters:

    What is the definition of a hero :?:

    a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities. per Webster's dictionary....if he had followed orders, highly likely that the 36 he saved would have been KIA.

    My dad was in the Army for over 23 years, fought in the Korean and Viet Nam conflicts and I'm sure he had to obey orders that he didn't agree with but you don't question your superiors. It's their way or the brig.


  22. Braddah Lance:

    hemajang:
    Unlike the viet nam era that I came from, soldiers nowadays are deployed multiple times to Irag and Afghanistan. It must take a toll on their psyche and effect decision-making in combat. Sgt. Meyer's action was heroic but there are also atrocities to deal with in war.

    No doubt about dat. Dis was Sgt.Meyer's second deployment I believe.
    .
    .
    .

    rayboyjr:
    ... choosing between what's legally right versus what's morally right ... it will always be a hard decision ... we should all feel blessed not to be under those circumstances ...

    Especially in life and death situations.

    ... I respect the military and their rules and codes of conduct ... but they will deal with those things in their own way ... to the rest of the us, he will always be a hero ...

    Well said.
    .
    .
    .

    2B:
    I believe he is the first living Medal of Honor Recipient from the Marines in the Afghanastan/Iraq conflicts era. There were other living recipients from the Marines from WWII, Vietnam Conflict, and Korean War.

    From all the articles I read, he is the only living Medal of Honor recipient from the Marines. There were a handful of oddahs from the oddah branches.
    .
    .
    .

    Ocean Lover:
    No.......I'm referring to what Dakota did (the RIGHT THING) and still get "pilikia" because of it.

    He actually hasn't gotten any trouble for his actions, his superiors did. But I'm just pointing out he did break at least one Article in da UCMJ.

    Another example....if you see someone choking, you "do the right thing" and give um the HEIMLICH maneuver.....but in the heat of the moment you don't realize your strength and you make their guts come outta the person's mouth and they end up dying....then you get sued by that person's family even though all you were trying to do was HELP.

    Actually I believe da person helping is now protected by da Good Samaritan Law.
    .
    .
    .

    SittingInLimbo:
    WELCOME BACK! geez has it been that long since I been on? that only now I've notice your blog?

    E Komo Mai back to WWD! SittingInLimbo! It's been awhile for everybody.

    My dad was in the army and if someone like Dakota rescued my father I would be forever greatful for he's bravery. It is true tho. Dam if you do and dam if you don't. What a screwy world we live in ugh!

    Sorry to hear about your father. And yeah, wat a screwy world we live in.... you either da screw or da screwdrivah.
    .
    .
    .

    anklebiters:
    My dad was in the Army for over 23 years, fought in the Korean and Viet Nam conflicts and I'm sure he had to obey orders that he didn't agree with but you don't question your superiors. It's their way or the brig.

    Das wat I'm wondering. How da heck did Sgt.Meyer avoid any type of disciplinary action? If he did, it surah is hush hush.