On August 6, 2011, while on their way to assist an ongoing mission in Wardak Province, Afghanistan, the CH-47D Chinook helicopter that they were riding in was shot down by an RPG fired by a Taliban fire team approaching their landing zone in Tangi Valley. All 38 American and Afghan service members who were aboard perished, marking the largest loss of life in America’s 11 years of military operations in Afghanistan.
The parents of one of the SEALs killed in the Chinook attack, Special Operations Chief Aaron Vaughn, are raising questions about how the Obama administration has pushed the limits of the military’s Special Operations Forces as part of its war policy (e.g. the Feb. 20th Newsweek story, “Obama’s Secret Army”), and how constrictive “rules of engagement” intended to win the “hearts and minds” of the Afghan people directly contributed to the deaths of all those aboard the helicopter.
At the Republican National Convention in Tampa in August, just a few weeks after the first anniversary of their son’s death, Karen and Billy Vaughn spoke at a rally in support of the troops and condemned Obama for using the heroism, bravery and sacrifice of the Navy SEALs to support his political campaign.
A few weeks later, they were on Fox News, calling the administration leaks following the operation that killed Osama bin Laden “criminal” for divulging the identity of the SEAL team involved in the raid. They’ve also complained about the form letters that many families of fallen soldiers receive from the White House.
And last month they spoke at a press conference on Capitol Hill with members of Congress criticizing the restrictive rules of engagement that handcuff even America’s most elite military units.