The opportunity to witness the court-martial of Bowe Bergdahl allowed me to hear another story in that military courtroom.

Retired Navy SEAL James Hatch testified of the circumstances under which he was shot in the leg during a search and rescue operation for Bowe.  As part of that account, he told the Court details that did not relate to Bowe directly, but that illustrate the untold costs of war.

Visibility was terrible during this mission and, as they approached the village, the team was attacked.  Vaguely seeing three individuals in a ditch, Chief Petty Officer Hatch sent a military dog, Remco, over to assess the risk to US forces.  The dog bit the largest person.  When Hatch followed, he found three children.  The child who was bit was an approximately 11-year-old girl, and the two others were approximately 3 years old.  He scooped up the younger children and tried to get the older girl to follow him, but she was so terrified she was frozen in a fetal position.  He ran the two younger children to the center of a field, came back for the older child, and then placed signals around them to alert air support that these were civilians.

Of course, I am grateful that he protected the children in the middle of an open cross-fire situation.  However, I cannot shake the image or the probable context of the unfolding events from my mind.  An 11-year-old girl in a ditch with two 3-year-olds?  Either under direction from adults or on her own, she was attempting to take responsibility for and protect two very young children from death by military assault (even if it was defensive fire) in the middle of a poor-visibility night.  During those desperate efforts, she was bit by a military dog.  That was just one piece of a larger traumatizing event – an event set against a background of unceasing conflict.  And, what of the two 3-year-old children?

How many stories are there like this, stories of which we know nothing?

~ Kindra Bradley, Quaker House Executive Director


This post was an article in our Winter 2017/2018 newsletter. Let us know if you would like to be on either our electronic or regular postal mailing list to receive our quarterly newsletters.