Editor’s note: Below are the video and transcript of the talk given by Bill and Karen Vaughn, parents of fallen Navy SEAL Aaron Vaughn, at the Freedom Center’s West Coast Retreat, held at the Terranea Resort in Palos Verdes, California from March 21-23, 2014:
Cheryl Cohen: I always say David is one of my heroes because he really is. And I’m very thankful, David, for providing us tonight with the opportunity to meet and listen to some warrior parents to honor their son and his fellow warriors killed by enemies both in and out of our government.
Karen and Billy Vaughn gave birth to one of our most elite worriers, Aaron Vaughn. One of the team that took out our most-wanted terrorist, and 90 days later was shot out of the sky. Why was he shot out of the sky? Because our Commander-in-Chief’s rules of engagement are so heavily influenced by Muslim Brotherhood advisers and sympathizers in the highest level of our government. Take a look.
These deaths are either gross ignorance or criminal and hostile intent on the part of our government. Reading the Vaughn’s book to me was like watching the towers fall — terrifying and enraging. There is a complimentary book for all of you as you leave tonight.
The Vaughn’s know that radical Islam is killing our troops with the implicit consent of our military and political leaders. Are our generals complicit or just silent? Listen to any Holocaust survivor and they’ll tell you, “Silence was consent.” Our government is now filled with an enemy dedicated to making Sharia law the law of our land.
Where are the people that are not afraid to speak out? Do people even know? The Muslim Brotherhood, Chief of Staff to our Secretary of State while the rules of engagement were being rewritten; Muslim Brotherhood, Deputy Associate, White House Counsel responsible for national security and media affairs; Muslim Brotherhood, White House Advisory Council on faith-based and neighborhood partnerships. The president of the largest Muslim Brotherhood front was appointed to the working group for countering violent extremism. And the list goes on, and on, and on.
The Director of Central Intelligence, John Brennan, is a convert to Islam. He purged all our military training manuals of any reference to Islam, to terrorism and to Jihad. Our military trainers were re-educated and disciplined as demanded by the group of 57 Muslim countries that wrote to Brennan. Gross ignorance or criminal and hostile intent?
This administration is in submission. Submission to Islam. Seal Team 6 Chief Aaron Vaughn, killed, because our Commander in Chief is in submission to Islam. But Aaron lives on through his parents who I am honored to introduce tonight, Karen and Billy Vaughn.
Karen Vaughn: Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you. I just have to say before we get started that I think it’s really cruel to serve a woman spinach just before she comes up and speaks. So if my teeth are green, you have to forgive me because it was really good.
I want to start just by very quickly thanking some key people. Rick Spratt created that video of Aaron and the warriors on board Extortion 17, and it’s a phenomenal job and, wow, so powerful. Thank you, Cheryl. Thank you. Cheryl Cohen for having the idea to invite us here. She read the book and actually reached out to us and with, of course, the approval of Mr. David Horowitz, and we cannot tell you how grateful we are to be here and to be able to share our story with such a wonderful group of people. We’ve been blessed this weekend just spending time with you. And, also, Michael Finch. Where did he go? He’s working I’m sure of it. Thank you so much for the help with bringing the books in and telling the story.
In 2009 we changed our strategy in Afghanistan to the COIN strategy (counter insurgency strategy). It’s better known as the Hearts and Minds Campaign. And I would like to know what rational human being on this planet thinks that you can win the hearts and minds of Islamic jihadists. If you can show me that person, then I’ll say there is some warrant to this idea of trying to win hearts and minds of this particular enemy. Since we implemented that – and you will notice 2009, that is when Barack Obama took office. And let me say, let me tell you something just in case you’re not aware — because I wasn’t before our son died in the shoot down of Extortion 17 — rules of engagement are directly handed down from the President of the United States. They are completely influenced from that particular office, and he has persuasion over all of them. So you have to believe that the political agenda of the man in power rules on the battle field. So in 2009 we implemented that strategy, and let me just tell you some shocking numbers.
You saw the death toll in the first four years after we implemented that strategy. But let me tell you this, now — and I’m only talking about hostile deaths in Afghanistan, hostile deaths, not non-hostile so don’t be confused or think I’m trying to grossly overrate the numbers — 80 percent of the men and women who have died in Afghanistan have died in the past five years of a 12 ½-year-old war. Numbers don’t lie. And so we have to address these numbers. And the wounded-in-action numbers are even more staggering. We went from the first 7 ½ years of war in Afghanistan with wounded-in-action numbers of 2,638. In the next four years, you know what that number was? 15,036 men and women came home maimed and forever changed. We’ve met a lot of them and, believe me, their lives are nearly as changed as our lives are.
That is an astronomical amount of savagery on our nation that’s being approved by this administration. And let me just tell you this, too, because I’m a numbers person, 52 percent of the deaths — of the hostile deaths in Afghanistan — 52 percent have taken place at the hands of IEDs or roadside bombs. Yet this administration’s rules of engagement tell us that we cannot attack a man who is planting a roadside bomb. I know these things are shocking, and I’m going to tell you a few stories because I think stories are probably the best way to communicate what I’m trying to say because I think we as Americans — and I was guilty of this as well — we see soldiers as something that we lineup across a floor like we played with as children. And I think many of our senior military leaders they say they care about the troops, but when it comes down to it, when the troops get knocked down they just go replace them with more troops and they don’t count the value of the human loss. What it cost a family like ours. What it cost our son’s wife and his two babies who were 2½ and 9 weeks respectively on the day he died.
And I want to tell you these stories because we’ve met so many parents. We’ve joined a club of people that is not a fun part, not a fun group to be a part of. But it’s an important group in America and we’re not being heard. The mainstream media is shutting us down. And I thank God for people like Louie Gohmert sitting here. Please, Louie Gohmert. If not for men, if not for brave men like him we would have had no voice.
But let me tell you a couple of stories regarding the rules of engagement. Matthew Sitten wrote his congressman, after he was so troubled by the way that we were operating, the rules of engagement we were operating under, he was having in his brigade at least one a day. One a day of his men were having, excuse me, I’m trying to figure out how to phrase this, an amputation from a roadside bomb of some type. So he wrote his congressman and said “please help us with the rules of engagement. Somebody has to do something.” And a month later he was killed by those same rules of engagement.
We met an Army Ranger who was actually in the clean-up crew of our son’s death who told us, “I had to get out.” This is a man who had dedicated his life to being a war fighter, not just a foot soldier, not somebody behind a desk, a war fighter who had been in many, many years said, “I had to get out. I had a family that I had to consider and I needed to come home.” And “we are being sacrificed. We were not allowed to fight.” And he told us a story about Sandrino Plutino who died just two days after our son died, and, what happened with him is his unit came under fire by a group of Taliban, and as the Taliban realized that they were completely outnumbered by San Drino’s unit, the Taliban turned and ran and you’re not going to believe me when I tell you what happened next. We began to pursue them and in that pursuit, wait for it, Sandrino had to get on his radio and ask for permission to engage the members of the Taliban. While he was arguing with command at a forward operating base, getting rules from men sitting around white-linen tablecloths completely uninvolved in this war, while that was going on, he was shot and killed along with two more of the men in his unit.
These are the things taking place in Afghanistan. This is why Billy and I do what we do. We are in a time of appeasement like no other time in our history. We have literally sold our soul to this enemy that Cheryl was telling you about. This Islamic jihadist enemy. And I’m not sure what’s going on. But I’ll tell you what, as a nation, we need to stand up and say we will sacrifice not one more son or daughter to this enemy or to appeasement.
Jordan Bear, I’m going to try and be quick here. Jordan Bear was on a U.S. base – unarmed, of course — because our soldiers are not allowed to be armed on their U.S. bases. But, the Afghans who are forced to fight alongside, they are armed. And guess what happened to Jordan Bear and one of his best friends while he was walking across the concrete courtyard on his U.S. base? He was gunned down by an Afghan terrorist who was allowed to man our tower. This is appeasement. He bled to death. He actually strangled on his own blood, couldn’t be rescued because they couldn’t take the man out of the tower because he kept shooting at the men trying to come rescue Sandrino and his friend.
This is what’s really happening. It’s 8½ hours later right now in the region of Afghanistan where our son died, and we don’t even know. We’re enjoying, and I want to enjoy my life. I want to enjoy my life as a free American. I want to embrace the things my son thought and gave his life for, but we must be always be aware that it’s morning. Morning is breaking over there and somebody probably died last night. There’s a good chance, for us, so that we could enjoy this freedom.
But let me talk more about appeasement. We had a member of Seal Team 6 come to us not long after Aaron died, and he told us the same thing that the Ranger told us about. “I had to get out.” Seventeen years he was a Navy Seal. This is the man who was a dedicated war fighter. He was three years short of retirement and he left the seal team — three years before he retired — because he would not be sacrificed to this enemy at the hands of his Commander-in-Chief. He told us that his greatest fear on every operation was being shot in the back of the head by the Afghan component working beside him. That there were constant Mexican standoffs, and when he would go to his leaders and say this is what’s happening to us in the field, they would say, “You’re not being logical.”
What is this denial? Why are we in the state of denial? We must have a dialogue about this in America, and we must stop defending and protecting the Islamic jihadist. We are at war with Islamic jihadist.
Let me tell you one other story. Greg Buckley, Jr. He was a young man who you may have heard. There’s been a lot on the news about his particular case. But he called his father and he said, “I’m not going to be coming home from Afghanistan.” And his father said, “Do you think you’re gonna die in the field?” He said, “No. I’m going to die on my base.” Guess what. He did. He was gunned down by an Afghan military policeman’s chai boy which was actually his sex slave. But let me tell you the worst part about that. He and two other men, actually, the fourth one was wounded seriously but lived. Here’s the shocking part about that story, the most shocking part. Seventeen days earlier his base had been warned about how dangerous this Afghan police chief was. That he was a drug trader. That he was a child sex trader, and they let him stay on the base, why? I wish somebody could answer that question for me. I wish somebody in senior military leadership could answer that question for me. But possibly, the most offensive thing that’s happened to us personally, other than the fact that our son lost his life due to the rules of engagement and if you read the book you’ll see that story unfold completely so I won’t waste my time here at the podium tonight on that, but I will tell you one thing. After our son and 29 other Americans died, eight of their bodies came home draped with the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan’s flag. I’m telling you the truth. They had an Imam pray over their bodies at that Grimera base and damned them as infidels to hell. You think I’m lying? It’s that shocking, but I’m telling you the truth.
The DOD has said that our translation of what the Imam said was incorrect, but they’ve not provided their own. And we did have it certified by eight separate translators – professional translators. We have ideological problem in this war and men and women are dying at the hands of it. It must be addressed, and I just have to say thank you so much for allowing us to have your ear tonight, for allowing us to tell you our story and thank you David, again and I’ll let Billy have the podium.
Billy Vaughn: Just as Karen said, thank you all so much for having us here tonight. All of you that she mentioned and many more. On August 6, 2011, Naval Special Warfare realized their greatest loss in their history. And on that morning on that day we all also realized our greatest loss in our history together. But, when I was notified by my daughter, I was in British Columbia, when I was notified by Tara, our oldest daughter, that indeed Aaron had been killed, in just a few minutes I remember saying to the lord, “God you always knew this would happen didn’t you? You always knew that we’d be here.” And I remember immediately thinking I’m glad you don’t let us know what’s ahead of us.
Also on that day I never, ever thought that tonight I’d be standing here before you. Never! But I can tell you this, we serve a great God. I’m a pitiful servant of Jehovah, but nonetheless I am his servant and as long as he gives me breath to speak and as long as he gives us an opportunity to tell the truth of what’s going on in our republic and with our military. You see they can’t stop us unless our great God allows us to be stopped. And as long as he gives me breath, every opportunity that I am given. I am a redneck. I am not supposed to be here tonight, okay? But nonetheless I am. And I thank you all for that opportunity.
Now I need to tell you for a few minutes some things that you need to know, because what’s going on with our military today is a burden to share. It’s not easy to share. It’s not easy to talk about our military. Probably the most esteemed organization and institution to Americans. But, folks, everything that you know is going on across the spectrum of our republic is also happening in the military. The difference is, is what we’re seeing today across the spectrum is costing us freedom and money. But what’s going on in the military is costing American blood and American security.
On August 6, 2011 17 Navy Seals, 5 Seal Team 6 support, 3 Air Force Special Operations and 5 Army reservists and National Guard aviation were killed in a shoot down in Wardaw Province, Tenure River Valley, Afghanistan. And the record will show that the Taliban shot that chopper out of the sky. But I will tell you today that there are people in Washington, D.C. who own more credit for the shoot down of Extortion 17 and the loss of our son and 29 other Americans than the Taliban will ever be able to claim credit for. I can tell you today that the American warriors in Afghanistan, our war fighters, men who volunteer and woman to go off and fight in a foreign land – where most of us would not go unless we were bound and dragged — volunteer to go off and fight because they love what’s behind them more than they hate what is in front of them are fighting a two-fronted war. They’re fighting the savage enemy in front of them, a primitive enemy, that has been made formidable by our administration and senior military leadership, and the rules of engagement, and submission to an enemy, and failure to recognize the ideology of the enemy that is engaged against this republic on foreign soil and here at home. The failure, the enemy has been made formidable by those reasons. But the greatest killing field that our warriors face today has been opened up in their rear in Washington, D.C. by men who sit in our air-conditioned offices, by men and women who sit over white-linen tablecloths who will never, ever hear a bullet whiz by their head, smell the gun powder or watch the blood drain from their buddy’s body.
And I’ll tell you this is criminal. It is criminal and you are financing it. You the American taxpayer are helping to finance to two-front war against our warriors today. On the day, and I don’t have much time, but on the day Aaron lost his life, you need to know. Just think about this for a minute. I am told. I don’t know if this is correct or not, but let’s assume that it is correct. But I am told by the time that a man reaches Seal Team 6 that there’s about $5,000,000.00 a man in that man. Let’s assume that that’s correct. That night there were 17 Navy Seals on that chopper. That’s about $85,000,000.00. Five Seal team support and the rest of the men. If for no other reason, if for no other reason, no man or woman or child in this room would make the stupid idiotic decision to put that valuable cargo on a 1960-some odd model chopper, equipped only for flying troops or cargo from base to base during the best conditions. But we put them all on one chopper that night. And let me tell you. No discredit to the Seals because you could not have kept my son off that chopper. That’s who they are. That’s who, they will go with whatever they are given. In fact that night, if they’d been given an icepick and a fingernail file they’d have gone in. They’d have run in. Just like in Benghazi. That’s who they are. That’s why we as American’s in this republic owe them the opportunity to defeat the enemy, to do what they’re trained to do, and to come out alive. And they would have come out alive. Most of them would have come out alive that night if they’d been foot with a fingernail file and an icepick. But we put them in the back of a school bus.
We sent them in in a 3½-hour firefighter, already underway, no pre-assault fire. Why? Because it’s considered aggressive to the enemy. When the chopper was shot down, when the chopper was shot down that night with 30 dead Americans on the ground and 8 Afghans, the most lethal air-weapons team the world has ever seen, an AC 130 Specter Gunship and two A-64 choppers in the air watching everything going on, did not take out the men who fired the RBGs, even though two of the three, one of the A64s and the AC 130, described in detail where the shots came from. Why? We are told in the debriefing by Brigadier General Jeffrey Colt because of the rules of engagement. There might be friendlies in the building below wherever the RBGs were fired. This is the kind of war that our warriors are being forced to fight.
Let me tell you something else. We operate in Afghanistan with what is called OCG (the operational coordination group of Afghanistan). When Aaron came home from Afghanistan in 2010 he said, “Dad, we never tell ‘em where we’re going” (the Afghans they carry with them). He said, “We never tell ‘em where we’re going until we get there because, if we do, a lot of time the enemy knows.” And, “Dad, a lot of times they won’t fight with us because they’re friends with the enemy.” And they’re always loyal to the highest bidder. Fast forward to 2011. What I’m telling you is the truth, and if you don’t believe me, I challenge you to prove what I’m saying to you is wrong. Look it up and see. The OCG. Now we operate with the OCG. They have eyes on every special operations mission. They’re in on the intel, they’re in on the preop, the post-op, the flight routs, everything about it. And, in fact, they have the authority to squash the special ops missions. In theory we have lent our special operators out to the Islamic Republic Sharia-compliant government of Afghanistan.
Folks this is criminal. This is criminal and it goes right back to the White House. Karen gave you the numbers. I could stand here and talk to you half the night with things that we have found out that are true about what’s going on in our military and when our men violate these rules of engagement. Let me tell you. Just like the men who didn’t take them out that night. When Aaron would tell me things that went on sometimes. Us being a believing family, a Christian family, it would run through my head sometimes. “Son, could something different have been done?” But never did it go from here to my lips or my tongue. You know why? I never wanted to put any indecision or hesitation in my son’s mind when engaging the enemy that might cost him his life.
But the rules of engagement set forth by our government, enforced by the Uniform Code of Military Justice System, which I will tell you, in my opinion, is not a justice system at all. It is a penal system used to punish our war fighters and cause them hesitation on the battle field. It puts hesitation in their minds all the time and is costing many of them their lives. It can be seen over and over again. And folks, there is a compromise of confidence between our war fighters and our senior military leadership today that is causing chaos in the military. It is causing insecurity in our military and it is causing a security problem for the citizens of the United States. Now what — and it is because of a denial to rec — I know, I got to close. It is because of a denial to recognize the enemy that we face today that is also softening the battlefield here at home. The Muslim Brotherhood, as many have said this weekend, has the ear of our Commander-in-Chief. This is criminal folks.
This man must be removed. We have a lawless administration in Washington, D.C. Americans have never seen this before, and we don’t know what to do. We’ve had some pretty sorry Commanders in Chief but at least they did their sorry deeds in the dark of night. This one is lawless. His vice president is goofy and arrogant and lawless. If you look at him across the board, it’s like we’re looking at clowns before the world. When you see Vladimir Putin and you respect him more than you do our Commander-in-Chief, folks we have a problem in our republic. But today, today what I ask you, yes we’ve written a book. It tells you about Aaron. It tells you about what happened that night. It tells you how and why, where we are and how we got there. But I hope what it tells you and what it asks you the most, after you read it, if you do, is that you be compelled to stand up and defend those who defend us because they cannot speak and defend themselves today here in our republic. Thank you very much for having us.
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